Urewera sentences upheld

October 30th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the Urewera four’s appeal against their convictions and sentences.

In today’s decision, Justices Mark O’Regan, Ellen France and Terence Arnold have agreed with High Court Justice Rodney Hansen’s earlier ruling and labelled it a “generous one”.

Lawyers for Urs Signer, Emily Bailey, veteran activist Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara took the appeal in August, three months after Justice Hansen’s ruling.

At the time, Signer and Bailey received a sentence of nine months’ home detention on firearms possession charges while Iti and Kemara were each sentenced to two and a half years in prison on the same charges.

In today’s ruling Justices O’Regan, France and Arnold agreed with Justice Hansen’s reasoning in the following passage:

“The question of whether the four of you participated in a criminal group, which had as its objective the commission of serious crimes of violence, is quite distinct from the issue of why you acquired the firearms and deployed them at the camps.

“Your intention in that latter sense is highly relevant to an assessment of your culpability and there is sufficient evidence on that issue to satisfy me to the standard of beyond reasonable doubt.”

They also suggested Justice Hansen’s approach had been “generous”.

“Accordingly, we consider it was open to the judge to reach the factual findings he did. Once that point is accepted, there can be no real argument that the sentences imposed were within range.

“Indeed, there is force in the Crown submission that in giving credit for the appellants’ altruistic motivation, the approach taken was generous.”

This is a very significant decision from the Court of Appeal. Many misguided idiots complained that the Court had got the sentences wrong, and had ignored the jury verdict. The Court of Appeal has rubbished this claim, and in fact said if anything the trial judge was too generous with his sentencing.
If Iti and co had not been so incompetent, they could have been dangerous. We do not want armed militias in NZ, or even idiots pretending to be one using firearms illegally.
The confirmed sentences should provide reasonable deterrent to others in the future.

Dom Post and Trotter on Urewera sentence

May 29th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The facts, as set out during sentencing by Justice Rodney Hansen, are these: in January, September and October 2007 Iti organised, and the others participated in, a series of camps, or rama, near Ruatoki. During the camps semi-automatic weapons, sawn-off shotguns, and sporting rifles were fired. In addition, Molotov cocktails were made and thrown at one of the camps. When police terminated their surveillance operation, three rifles, two of them semi-automatic, were found under a tarpaulin at Iti’s Ruatoki house, four rifles and a semi-automatic shotgun were found in the boot of Kemara’s car and in a caravan he occupied, and a .22 rifle was found in a backpack at a Wellington campsite occupied by Signer and Bailey.

I think the Police said a total of 18 firearms were found, and none of these people were licenses to have them.

A crime committed in pursuit of laudable objectives is just as much a crime as a crime committed for base motives. Those who have rushed to defend Iti and his fellows should ask themselves how they would react if a group of white supremacists was found to be covertly preparing for guerilla warfare.

A point I also made. We should condemn anyone who mixes politics with guns. Europe bears the scars of such legacies.

The sentences are just. They serve as a warning not just to Iti and his fellows, but to others of all political persuasions that political activity must fall within the bounds of the law.

The rule of law depends upon all being equal before the law.

The deterrent factor is important.

Chris Trotter blogs:

The persons arrested as a result of “Operation Eight” were not held incommunicado, denied access to legal advice and tortured until they confessed. Nor were they tried and executed in secret. On the contrary, they were given a fair trial in an open court and only convicted on a number of firearms charges. Two of the accused were jailed for two-and-a-half years. Their convictions and their sentences are now being appealed.

 So, no. The “real life” Tame Iti is not the same as the fictional hero “Smith” played by Sam Neill. He was not fighting a murderous dictatorship. He was not being hunted down by US “advisers”. Nor were he and his followers being strafed and bombed by RNZAF Skyhawks.
What Mr Iti does appear to have been doing, however, was giving practical effect to the numerous discussions, extending over many decades, in which Maori nationalists and their far-Left Pakeha allies have weighed the pros and cons of organising a revolutionary Maori army.
Of course maybe there was another explanation, but we have yet to hear it – apart from the nonsense about peace activists wanting to work as security guards in Iraq.

Franks on Urewera sentences

May 28th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stephen Franks blogs:

It’s a good day for New Zealand.  Justice Hansen sentencing the Urewera four was having none of  what he called their “utterly implausible” excuses.  Well done, police and prosecutors.

 But a wider dividend goes well past the four.  So called “peace activists” will not rest easier tonight. Their cover is permanently blown by the terrorism evidence even though it could not be used. They know the police know who they are and what they mean by “peace”.  

Yes, I personally look forward to the next time Valerie Morse goes on about peace. She may not have been convicted of anything, but the sheer hypocrisy of preaching peace, and running around the bush practicing how to shoot people and use molotov cocktails means she’ll never be taken seriously again.

Even if our “terrorists” were more “Dad’s Army” than Baader Meinhof or Red Brigades,  some at least could have become more dangerous. Training camps sift out a hard core from the wannabes. Standard terrorist modus operandi is to process lots of amiable recruits and naive fellow travellers, searching for that nugget – the person willing to kill and be killed for the cause.  Being inept is not being innocuous.  

Yes, they were the equivalent of Dad’s Army.

There is no moral victory for the offenders and their dupes.  Refusing to account for yourself, whilst having your lawyers put forward hilarious explanations of innocence  and fighting strenuously to suppress contrary evidence is not a heroic stance. 

If the best argument was that they were training to be security guards in Iraq, I’d hate to see the even more implausible arguments they rejected as a defence.

And race had nothing to do with it. Dozens of armed police stormed Dotcom’s castle. Sobered by the Jan Molenaar police killing and siege, it is time to drop the nonsense about Tuhoe being singled out for overbearing treatment. 

And worth remembering a total of 18 firearms were found on the raids – far more than Mr Dotcom had.

Iti sentenced to 30 months

May 24th, 2012 at 1:09 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The four – Iti, Urs Signer, Kemara and Emily Bailey – were found guilty of unlawful possession of military-style firearms and Molotov cocktails at training camps held in the Urewera Ranges in 2006 and 2007.

They were appearing in the High Court at Auckland for sentencing today.

Iti and Kemara were jailed for two and a half years. …

Justice Hansen was emphatic that despite a “Dad’s Army” aspect to the camps, their intent was serious.

“A private militia was being established. That is a frightening prospect to our society.”

The judge said one of those involved held extreme anarchist views and there was talk among the participants of killing, using explosives to kill, and attempts to “smash the state”.

At the end of the day, if their motives were not malign they could have applied for firearms licenses. They chose not to, and frankly there is no legitimate reason for anyone to have a molotov cocktail – let alone practice how to use them.

This will hopefully deter other like minded idiots in the future.

UPDATE: Related to this, Police Commissioner Peter Marshall explains why the Police took action in this case.

Paul Buchanan on King’s claims

March 26th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan blogs at Kiwipolitico:

Former Police Minister Annette King says that she and her cabinet colleagues were not informed about Operation 8 until the night before the dawn raids. …

Annette King expects us to believe that she, as Police Minister, had no clue about a police operation that was going to invoke the TSA for the first time, not against foreign terrorists but against a collection of well-known domestic dissidents with long histories with the Police. She expects us to believe that Helen Clark, the micromanaging, all-knowing Prime Minister and Minister for Intelligence and Security, had no clue about Operation 8 even though the TSA was used to justify the electronic surveillance of the suspects a year before the raids, that SIS assets were used to that end, and that the raids would be carried out on Tuhoe land as well as in cities (a delicate political issue, to say the least). 

Paul raises some interesting points. Maybe they were only told that the exact operation was occurring the next day, but I suspect some Ministers would have known of the overall investigation for much longer than that.

She wants us to believe that then-Police Commissioner Howard Broad, well known for his ties to the the Prime Minister, did not utter a word about who was targeted and why until less than 12 hours before the cops rolled.

She would like us to believe that with the possible exception of the PM, no one in the 5th Labour government was aware of Operation 8 until October 14, 2007. This, even though multiple agencies were involved and the lead-up  to the raids was over a year in the making.

Yeah Right.

King’s interview has raised more questions than it has answered.

Thoughts on the Urewera case

March 21st, 2012 at 5:36 pm by David Farrar

I find myseelf in partial agreement with No Right Turn and Russell Brown on the Urewera case. First let me quote NRT:

Four and a half years after the initial raids, the jury has finally reached a verdict in the trial or the Urewera Four, finding them guilty of some of the firearms charges, but failing to reach a verdict on the core charge of “participation in a criminal group”. On the former, its worth noting that this crime has a reverse onus of proof; once its alleged, and possession is proven, the defendants have to prove themselves innocent. Clearly, they didn’t do that to the satisfaction of the jury in all cases, and its not hard to see why. “Bushcraft” is one thing, but training to use guns against people looks very dubious indeed, and something which is hard to see as “lawful or proper” under any circumstances in a peaceful society. Likewise, on at least one of the charges in question – possession of a Molotov cocktail – there seems to be very little scope for there to even be a “lawful and proper” purpose for having one. If you want to do that sort of thing, stick to paintball.

I agree there was no lawful purpose for what they were doing. Those taking part were not good people with good intentions. They are not martyrs. Many of them are gross hypocrites. Valerie Morse calls herself a peace activist and runs around the bush practicing how to shoot people and blow them up. People should remember this whenever any of them bleat on about peace again.

The defence line that they were training to be security guards in Iraq, was surely a bad joke.

Russell Brown points out:

But some of those involved – Whiri Kemara in particular – did amass weapons and military equipment (his records, under two accounts, at Trade Me are an eye-opener). Kemara even attempted to buy a grenade or flare launcher in Auckland.

So I am glad there are some convictions for illegal use of firearms. I do not like people with no licenses running around with guns, talking about killing people, and learning how to throw molotov cocktails.

No Right Turn has also said:

On the organised criminal group charge, its good to see that the government’s fantasies of armed rebellion were not believed by the jury. 

There were fantasies of armed rebellion, but they were the fantasies of the people involved, rather than the Police. The Police did over-react and I will come to that. While there were a couple of dangerous people involved, the majority of those in the Urewera 17 were probably more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else, with their exercises.

Russell Brown nicely says:

These guys weren’t heroes and they weren’t terrorists. They were dickheads. 

This is very true. One of my activist acquaintances who knows some of them commented that the majority of them were lusting after Morse, and were basically trying to impress her with their dedication to the cause. They were as Russell says, dickheads.

The reality is that they probably had no ability to go from playing wargames in the bush, to actually planning a real attack on someone or something. Hence for that reason I am not surprised the jury could not reach a verdict on being part of an organised criminal group. Their own incompetence probably saved them. Plus to be fair to them, there is a difference between talking about doing something, and actually planning to do it.

Another element of the defence case rings truer: that these people couldn’t possibly have been part of an organised criminal group because they were plainly such fools.

Basically yes.

Now I do think it was right and proper for the Police to take some action. You do not want extremists stockpiling weapons, and training people on them, while discussing shooting people and armed revolution.

But treating as a terrorist threat, and sending in the STG and AOS to bust down doors was over-kill. They would have been better to simply arrest in the normal fashion those involved, and charge them with firearm offences only. They should also have told Iti they know what he and his group have been talking about, and that if they continue down that path, they will be in a whole world of trouble.

I do not believe there is any point of seeking a retrial on the criminal conspiracy charge. I think it is time to move on. However don’t expect sympathy from me for those arrested, let alone support for an apology. While the Police did over-react and their method of arrest and initial charges were over the top, those arrested were using illegal firearms while discussing how to kill people and blow things up. If you’r’e that stupid, you deserve to suffer some consequences.