I agree with John Minto.
There, I said it. I agree with John Minto.
I also agree with Annette Sykes, Tamati Kruger, Barry Wilson, Keith Locke, Pita Sharples, and the lawyers for Tame Iti and the rest of the ragtag “terrorists” caught red-handed running around the Ureweras practicing armed atrocities.
I agree with them that justice has not been done in the case of the ‘Urewera 18.’ I agree with them that the four-year wait for justice is a farce. I agree with them that if charges against 11/15 of the crew are to be dropped, then an apology is probably warranted for the way the arrests were carried out—and not just to the (now former) defendants, but to the people in Ruatoki whose homes and families were invaded based on charges that were never tested in open court.
JUSTICE HAS NOT BEEN DONE. Evidence suppression and the lack of any real trial in four years has seen to that. Were the 11 no acquitted totally innocent of all wrong doing? Given what little we’ve been allowed to know, that’s unlikely. Given the Supreme Court has now ruled off-limits even discussing the reasons for the charges being dropped, we’re unlikely ever to be satisfied. Any of us. But this group of malcontents were entitled to try to clear their name in open court, if they could. That they haven’t had that right protected is a reflection of the injustice of our so-called justice system—and of the efforts of their own lawyers, who did all they could themselves to suppress publication of the evidence against their clients. (Which was damning, as I heard for myself in open court.) We’ve seen a lot about the ‘Urewera 18’ in the last four years. But justice has not been done, and nor has it been seen to be done.
EXTRAORDINARY POWERS REQUIRE EXTRAORDINARY CARE. The Terrorism Suppression Act was drawn up under the previous government to give the police extraordinary powers—and so poorly conceived and drawn up so ineptly the only power it really gave them was the power to overreach themselves. Which is what the Supreme Court decided they did. Poor police practice combined with this poorly-conceived and badly-drafted Act gave the Supreme Court grounds to throw out the cases against eleven defendants, not because (please note) that there was no evidence against them, but because the way the evidence against them was gathered. This is ineptitude of a high order. It means justice will never be served in this case at all.
JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED. It has now been four years since the 18 were arrested. —Four years! Four years in which the crown muddled while defendants and their lawyers and their friends in the media churned out press releases, interviews and media events in their defence. In the absence of a real trial we had instead a trial by media—a “trial” in which defendants were feted while all the substantive evidence against them was suppressed at the behest of their own lawyers! (That their requests for suppression only delayed proceedings even longer puts their crocodile tears now over the delays into damning perspective.) But if a justice system cannot pull together a case in four years, while fending off the shysters out looking for a loophole, that’s a pretty serious indictment of the system’s failure.
It is a farce—especially when all the evidence suppression means we now have no clear idea in law whether the arrests and the way they were carried out were justified or not. Only suspicions.
So I agree with John Minto, Annette Sykes, Tamati Kruger, Barry Wilson, Keith Locke, Pita Sharples and the lawyers for Tame Iti and the rest of the ragtag “terrorists.” Justice has not been done—only not in the way they mean it.
I’ve always agreed as a foundation of justice with the legal principle as formulated by Blackstone :
“Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."
But at times like this, my commitment to it is somewhat stretched.