Delays to the Urewera trial is denying defendants their access to justice, Labour leader Phil Goff says.
Last week it was reported that the trial of 15 people, arrested after police raids in 2007 at alleged training camps in the Urewera Ranges, appeared unlikely to go ahead as scheduled on May 30 and could be delayed until next year.
The Supreme Court granted leave to the accused to appeal earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that their case be heard by a judge alone rather than a judge and jury, and over the admissibility of some evidence.
Last week the Supreme Court issued a minute which said it was not able to decide on the admissibility of evidence before the trial’s start date.
Prosecutor Ross Burns at the time said it was unlikely the trial, estimated to take three months, would be held before the end of the year.
I have five questions reating to the fact it may take five years for the case to go to trial.
- How much of the five years delay is due to the prosecution not being ready to go to trial?
- How much of the five years delay is due to the defence seeking rulings or appealing decisions?
- How much of the five years delay is due to court scheduling?
- Would any of the reforms implemented by Simon Power have sped up the time it takes to get to trial?
- If yes to (4) how did Labour vote on them?
I don’t know the answer to these questions but my initial impression is that at least some of the delays is due to the defence appealing issues all the way to the Supreme Court. If so, then having the defendents complain about the time to go to trial seems like a plea that they should not be allowed so many appeals.
We had similiar with Ahmed Zaoui. Thousands protested how long it took for him to go to trial, overlooking the fact his very competent lawyer Deborah Manning caused all the delays.
I genuinely do not know what the answers to the questions above are. Possibly some of our resident lawyers can help.