Sentencing the ‘Urewera four’ – an affront to our sense of justice?
Let’s re-cap; Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer, and Emily Bailey, were not found guilty of any terrorism-related charges. In fact, the Solicitor General, David Collins, refused permission to lay charges against any of the original “Urewera 18″, under the Terrorism Suppression Act.
Instead, as the case dragged on,
- Thirteen of the original 18 had all charges against them dropped (one passed away),
- The remaining four had to wait five years to have their day in Court,
- Those four were found guilty of firearms charges,
- The jury came to no decision regarding the more serious charge of participating in an organised criminal group,
- Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were sentenced to jail for two and a half years,
- Urs Signer and Emily Bailey may be sentenced to home detention.
In summing up, Judge Hansen ripped into all four with a sentencing summation that has angered many, and defies belief,
” A private militia was being established. That is a frightening prospect to our society… What possible other explanation could there be for what the participants were demonstrably doing? “
Iti, Kemara, Signer, and Bailey, were found guilty of firearms charges – nothing else. They were not found guilty of terrorism, nor of belonging to an “organised criminal group”.
Since when is a judge justified in making sweeping pronouncements regarding matters that none of the defendents were tried on?
This beggars belief, and is a gross violation of basic principles of justice.
It is clear that Judge Hansen exceeded his role in judging and sentencing the ‘Urewera 4′.
Sentencing Tami Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara to prison for two and half years for firearms offences that were committed in isolated areas; with no possible threat to the public; and no charges proven on more serious matters, indicates that this was not a matter of justice – it was one of punitive revenge by the State.
Like the original raids in 2007, conducted using para-military force, in full battle-regalia, and armed with high-powered, lethal weapons, the sentencing of the ‘Urewera 4′ was an expression of the full coercive power of the State.
The movie ‘Sleeping Dogs’ became reality on 15 October 2007,
Which, of the above is from a fictional movie and which is from a real event? Is there any difference at all?
This blogger condemns, in no uncertain terms, the comments made by Judge Hansen and the excessive sentence handed down to the defendents. This is not justice – this is abuse of power.
This blogger further calls for the following,
- The convictions against Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer, and Emily Bailey, to be quashed.
- Judge Hansen to resign.
- An apology to be made to the Tuhoi people.
Nothing less will suffice.
= fs =
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