The “Urewera 18” are now down to four. The police persecution has now been dropped for eleven of those charged in the Operation 8 raids four and half years ago.
Crown Solicitor Simon Moore said the effect of a recent Supreme Court ruling on the case – which is suppressed – was that there was no longer enough evidence to continue against some and the others would have to be tried separately after the main trial.
That would be four-and-a-half years after they were charged, and the main trial would have to be subject to wide-ranging suppressions, and so was not practical or in the public interest.
The supreme court decision on the evidence that the police had illegally and unlawfully obtained. The Herald has a bit more detail
The Supreme Court has ruled certain evidence inadmissable at the so-called “terror raid” trial of next year which was set to last for three months.
The groundbreaking decision over-ruled previous judgments from the High Court and Court of Appeal over whether the Crown could use evidence gathered in the covert police operation before the arrests in October 2007.
Despite having been arrested, jailed, held under stringent bail conditions, and harassed by the police in court for the last four years – none of those affected by the decision will be able to get any compensation. They have not been wrongly convicted and so are not entitled to any recompense, compensation, or damages by right.
Those charged have lost time and wages from employment by being jailed on remand. Some have been unable to obtain employment because of these charges hanging over them and the bail conditions. Some have had to mortgage their houses to cover legal fees outside of whatever legal aid they have been able to obtain. The disruption to their life, family and friends has been immense.
However the only way that they could try to obtain recompense would be through a civil proceeding that would be incredibly expensive, problematic because of the position of the police inside the law, and would take years to get to trial.
Meanwhile the crown has been able to spend at least hundreds of thousands of dollars and probably more than a million running a weak case.
It was a case that was probably triggered from accusations by anonymous and paid confidential informants of widespread terrorist activity amongst the activist communities in NZ. Was fueled by testosterone junkies in the police unlawfully gaining evidence that has now been ruled as inadmissible. And has been maintained for the last four years in the courts by the police because it would have been too embarrassing for those who authorized these activities and the final ridiculous raids of 300 police across the country in what is increasingly looking like a botched training exercise.
We’re unlikely to ever even see the illegal evidence or the judgments related to it because most of it is covered by one or more suppression orders. None of these perpetrators of this idiotic police injustice are ever likely to face any punishment.
All of this was quite apparent from the time of the raids. Why has it taken four years to get to a discharge?
My opinion based on observing them for some time is that some police simply don’t like activists. Dragging them through the courts for years is a remarkably cost free (for the police) and effective way to inflict punishment on them.
The legal imbalance that allows this to happen is something that the courts should start correcting – since parliament is unlikely to do so.
Specifically the judges should allow the people who are having the charges dropped to ask for their costs to be paid by the police and crown solicitors office. This should include the costs of being jailed, bailed, and legal.
Update: Maia at The Hand Mirror has a excellent post on the costs..