GPJA – outrageous sentences for Urewera Four – prison protest from 6.30 tonight

24 May 2012

Media Release:

Judge uses sentencing to retry Urewera Four

The prison sentences handed down today in the case of the Urewera Four are an outrage.

In his summing up the judge ignored the recent jury trial and cherry-picked the hottest bits of hot air from 67,000 pages of police evidence to stamp the most extreme police interpretation on events at the training camps.

Some of his comments went further than even the crown claimed in their case.

He also ignored the recent jury trial where jurors could not reach a verdict on the most serious charge of belonging to a criminal group. The judge had no doubt the defendants did belong to such a group and gave the sentences accordingly.

We may as well not have had a jury trial. The judge substituted himself for the jury and effectively retried the defendants at sentencing.

The police will welcome the decision. The judge has done for them what the jury refused to do.

Today’s sentence should be seen as the courts, as one arm of the state, defending another arm of the state – the police – after a monumental police cockup.

It also sends a veiled threat to Tuhoe and Maori activists more generally.

As we have said all along the police should have been interested and followed up on reports of groups training in the Urewera bush. Iwi-liaison police officers should have investigated and sorted this out before the reckless police operation which resulted in claims of terrorism.

Today’s scene at court was a reminder of the crown trial against Tuhoe leader Rua Kenana in the same location 96 years ago with a similar outcome.

John Minto

GPJA Spokesperson

Ph (09) 8463173 (H)

Mob 0220850161

johnminto

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