All firearms charges against the "Urewera 18'' arrested after
police raids on alleged military training camps in the
Ureweras have been dropped.
But four of the accused, including Tame Iti, will still stand
trial on charges of participating in an organised crime
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 overruled previous judgments from
the High Court and Court of Appeal about whether the Crown
could use evidence gathered in the covert police operation
before the arrests in October 2007.
The Crown has now dropped the Operation Eight prosecution,
according to a statement released this morning by the
Auckland Crown Solicitor, Simon Moore SC.
Fifteen of the "Urewera 18'' accused faced firearms charges
and four of them _ including Tuhoe activist Tame Iti _ faced
charges of participating in an organised criminal group.
That trial, of Iti, Te Rangikaiwhira Kemara, Emily Bailey and
Urs Signer, will still go ahead.
Three other defendants also faced firearms charges but their
trial was "severed'' to be conducted separately. Neither
trial will go ahead now.
The early morning raids in October 2007 involved more than
300 officers in property searches in Auckland, Waikato, the
Bay of Plenty, Wellington and Christchurch using warrants
alleging crimes under the Terrorism Suppression Act.
The Solicitor-General subsequently ruled out charges under
the Terrorism Suppression Act _ saying the law was "almost
impossible to apply in a coherent manner'' _ but firearms
charges still remain.
The case has dragged out for nearly four years and cost
taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Mr Moore said the judgment of the Supreme Court is subject to
suppression orders and cannot be reported. But as a result of
the Supreme Court decision, the Crown no longer believes
there is sufficient evidence to justify the Arms Act charges.
He said separate trials would be needed for those charged
under the Arms Act and the four accused of the organised
"The effect of the delay would be that those accused facing
Arms Act charges alone would not be tried for a period of
four and a half years from the date of there arrest,'' said
"Further, they were remanded in custody for a period of time
following their arrest, and they have been on restrictive
bail conditions through much of the time since their release.
"Taking these matters into account together with findings
made by the Supreme Court about the seriousness of their
offending, it is the Crown decision that the continuation of
proceedings would not be in the public interest.''
Mr Moore said the Crown will apply to the High Court for
orders to permit publication of various judgments, currently
suppressed, in the interests of open justice for matters of
significant public interest.
"It is anticipated that a special hearing will be convened so
that all accused other than the four charged with the
organised criminal group charge can be discharged as soon as