---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: michael nicoll yahgulanaas <mny@...>
Subject: Maori and New Zealand police raids
Slow start to raids hearing
Sep 1, 2008 6:54 AM
A long awaited legal hearing in Auckland got off to a slow start with no evidence heard on day one of depositions for those charged after last year's "anti terror raids".
Eighteen people arrested in the controversial raids appeared in court on Monday morning.
The accused, who face firearms charges following controversial police raids in October last year, appeared in Auckland District Court amid a heavy police presence.
Judge Mark Perkins presided over a brief session as the 18 accused, including Tame Iti, had their names read out.
The air was thick with tension as supporters set up camp early under the watchful eye of a police presence that was strongly resented. Supporters told ONE News the charges were ridiculous and said police were there to enforce the law not break it.
Iti stood next to the dock with his hands folded, and spoke only in Maori. Through an interpreter he thanked members of Tuhoe for their support and attendance in the public gallery. The court registrar read out each of the 27 charges he faces in English and then in Maori.
With 18 defendants, around 300 charges and 24 lawyers involved, the hearing was always going to be slow going and before it even got properly under way the judge had to deal with a raft of complaints from defence lawyers unhappy with the sound system, a shortage of seating and a lack of up to date information from the crown.
The accused have been assigned the first two rows of the public gallery while a middle row has been cordoned off for security purposes - enforcing a gap from members of the public sitting in the back row.
Legal arguments are expected to be made by defence lawyers to bar all media coverage of the proceedings.
The controversial police raids in Ruatoki last October were carried out amid allegations Tuhoe activists, including veteran protester Tame Iti, were running military-style training camps in the Urewera Ranges.
Initial charges laid under untested anti-terrorism legislation were thrown out by the Solicitor General. Hundreds of charges remain - relating mainly to the possession of firearms and restricted weapons such as molotov cocktails - but many believe they should never have been laid.
Meanwhile, a month of what could be testy depositions continues.