Urewewa trial starts finally

Ian Steward at Stuff reports:

After four years and four months, numerous pre-trial arguments, appeals and alterations, the remaining members of the group arrested in the Urewera police raids will finally face trial in Auckland today.

Of the 17 arrested across the country on October 15 2007, only four remain after a landmark Supreme Court judgment ruled out evidence that led to the dropping of charges against 13 co-accused.

The four remaining defendants – Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Urs Signer – face charges of participating in a criminal group and illegal possession of firearms relating to camps held in the Urewera Ranges in 2006 and 2007.

I look forward to hearing the evidence.

The High Court at Auckland has been set aside for a three-month jury trial, though all involved hope it will not take that long for the mammoth case to be prosecuted and defended.

The Crown will call 75 to 80 witnesses and it is not yet known if the defence will call their own witnesses.

Iti’s lawyer Russell Fairbrother scotched rumours that the proceedings would be slowed through being translated into Maori, saying his client wanted the case prosecuted ”as efficiently as possible” and translation for Iti would not be necessary.

How unusual to be defended by someone who was a Government MP at the time of the arrests.

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