Criminal gang charges

Five of the eighteen arrested in last year’s October 15th raids are now facing new allegations to be added to their Arms Act charges – of participating in a criminal gang.  These charges are more serious, would need to be heard in the High Court, and carry a maximum sentence of 5 years.  The five are Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Urs Signer, Tuhoi Lambert and Whiri Kemara.  Charges dismissed by the Judge at the just-completed-depositions-hearing will also be revisited. 

Some charges, relating to three of the alleged camps, were dismissed by Judge Mark Perkins, who found there was insufficient evidence to support them.

But Crown Prosecutor Ross Burns said last night the crown would be re-laying those charges in the same indictment with the new charges.

The timing of this seems odd, if we assume the charges relate to activity before October 15th last year – why has it taken so long?  

Activists are alleging this is just an attempt to make the cases look more credible to a sceptical public.

The press release about the new charges from October 15th Solidarity, the group supporting those accused, is here.  The press release from Global Peace and Justice Auckland is here.

Radio NZ interviewed Moana Jackson, part of the legal team defending those accused, this morning on Nine to Noon – he describes the new charges as “saving face” because of the millions of dollars of resources which have been already spent on this case by the Crown – and sees them as abusive.  He is also concerned that political dissent and activism not be described as “gang activity”. 

Radio NZ’s Kathryn Ryan says this means the Crown will apply for all 17 of those facing firearms charges to have their cases heard in the High Court now – significantly ramping up the case.

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