I said in a post on my old blog that the Urewera 18 deserved an apology. My main point is that 13 if then were put through 4 years of being accused of being terrorists and criminals and then all charges were dropped. Some of these people lost work, had to move, we separated from family all around these charges and then the charges were just dropped.
From the post
If the police put you or I through 4 years of being accused terrorists, to the detriment of our families, relationships and finances then just threw it all in saying “not enough evidence” we’d demand an apology.
I have no idea what happened in Te Urewera’s for these arrests to have taken place, I don’t neither support, nor do I condemn, the so called Urewera 18. All I know is that if you or I were put through what they were put through we’d expect, and deserve, an apology.
Why should it be any different for them?
I know what your thinking…”just because the ‘4’ were not convicted of the more serious crime of being a part of a criminal organisation…that doesn’t mean they aren’t”…well actually you’re wrong, that’s exactly what it means. In the eyes of the law these ‘4’ are not a part of the criminal organisation that they were accused of. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution, we are innocent until proven guilty, which means if you can’t prove it…in the eyes of the justice system…I didn’t do it.
I think John Minto makes a fair point
In the Auckland High Court yesterday afternoon it all boiled down to a handful of convictions of four people for technical breaches of the Arms Act. That was it. So after many millions spent during 18 months of surveillance, more millions spent on the prosecution and following 30,000 pages of evidence the police bagged a small number of minor convictions on what one of the defence lawyers described as “holding changes”.
Just think about the progressions of these charges.
Five years ago we had ‘terrorists’ being charged, that got downgraded to ‘criminal organisation’, which upon the end of the court case was downgraded to some minor firearms charges. That’s a pretty big fall!
“We thought we had Osama bin Laden…but we ended up with a pig hunter with an unlicensed firearm!”
No I am not naive to think that nothing ‘dodgy’ was happening in the Urewera’s, but as of today we cannot place guilt on these people.
If these are dangerous criminals, then the Police have let the whole country down, if they are not then the Police owe them an apology.
It would appear that the judge did not think these ‘4’ were a danger to society as he grated them bail and they are today at home with their families. The Crown opposed bail, but the judge granted it anyway
There is one other part of this story that I have major concerns about.
If any institution in this fine country should be above reproach, then it needs to be our justice system. The justice system needs to dot its ‘i’s’ and cross its ‘t’s’. The idea that the court room will accept information that has been gathered illegally makes me, at best, uncomfortable.
I understand that is an accusation is so serious it may be acceptable in those instances, but in this case the prosecution have not been able to get a conviction on the more serious charges, so does that mean it wasn’t the kind of case where this should have been allowed…obviously I cannot say for sure any which way…but to have a government change the legislation of this country, to introspectively make illegal evidence legal…then not get the conviction sends warning signs to me.
If nothing else, I think the police owe the people of Ruatoki an apology for the so called raids…I don’t have a problem with them investigating what was going on, but how they did it requires an acknowledgement that they were wrong.