Urewera 18, 17... Operation 8... Group of 4...
RNZ reporting the PM says it was all done in what one of Kenny Everett's characters might have described as 'the best possible taste'.
The Police/Crown position has gone from dozens of armed militants - radical Pakeha and Tuhoe activists - plotting terrorism in training camps in the Urewera, to now four people being part of a criminal group. So it was only four people who are terrorists? But they're not terrorists because - based on the evidence - the judiciary said they weren't able to be charged as such. So it's four people being part of a criminal group. From 18 to 4.
The Police and Crown prosecuters were all hyped up from chasing their own shadows, preparing for a terrorist show trial in Auckland. A mass trial the likes we had never seen before. It was all a police fantasy fuelled by their own prejudices, hazy intel from hazy narks, endless hours of inconclusive stoner ravings in sheds that were bugged, and the spectacular scope and cost the operation had generating its own pressure for a visible return. In this light perhaps 'Operation 8' refers to an $8 million budget?
The Crown are still holding out for a modest return still, and continue to play games. Saving face for the NZ Police is also part of the Crown Solicitor's job:
The Crown has said it intends to apply to have suppression orders on the Supreme Court judgement lifted, while preserving the rights of the remaining four to a fair trial.
Tame Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother told Morning Report he has reservations about suppression orders being lifted until Mr Iti's trial has been heard.
"I have hesitation about increasing the level of media publicity from one perspective, which is the police perspective.
"If we can get Mr Iti's case heard or finalised before February, we'll try and do it that way."
Meanwhile, Crown Solicitor, Ross Burns says the Crown has agreed in principle to a jury trial for the four remaining defendants, though the Crown Law Office has still to confirm this.
Supporters of the group have urged the police to drop these charges saying the four-year wait for trials has become a farce.
NZ Police and Crown credibility is shot to pieces - and they are the ones holding that particular smoking gun.
There are rightfully calls for the accused - in legal limbo with bail restrictions since 2007 - to be compensated. They should. I doubt they will get a bean, but they should pursue it. However it is the police overreaction in the Urewera that demands an apology and compensation.
The road block the NZ Police put up, forcing people to have their photos taken and submit to searches, was illegal. Armed NZ Police searching a school bus is surely contrary to law. Wikipedia has an excellent page on this case:
Roadblocks were set up between Ruatoki and Taneatua by armed police, who searched and questioned everyone who passed through. There were reports that a school bus was stopped and searched, though police superintendent Wally Haumaha said these reports were wrong. The bus driver, however, told a hikoi four days after the raid: "The police did hop on our bus and they did search our bus ... they always held their rifles." The organiser of the hikoi called on the government to acknowledge the incident and do something for the children affected by it. Speaking on Radio New Zealand she asked "I'd like to ask that question why? [was there nothing being done] is it because we're from Ruatoki? Is it because the majority of children are Māori out here?" Police maintained a strong presence in Ruatoki in the days following the initial raids and continued to question locals.
Isolating a Maori village by a ring of police to capture those who so much as even speak of threatening the Crown's grip on power is a very old tactic used by the armed forces of the NZ government many times.
They did it in 1882 in Parihaka, Taranaki.
They did it in 1916 in Maungapohatu, Urewera.
They did it in 1978 in Bastion Point/Takaparawhau, Auckland.
They did it in Ruatoki in 2007.
And they will do it again tomorrow given half the chance and any excuse.