Tame Iti Hangs Jury

Tame Iti Hangs Jury

Questions have arisen over the fate of the “Urewera Four” after a jury was unable to reach a verdict on the most serious charge against them.

On March 20 Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Emily Bailey and Urs Signer were found guilty by a jury on a number of firearms charges. The offences carry a maximum sentence of four years’ imprisonment and a maximum $5000 fine. However, the jury was hung on the most contentious allegation of the trial, whether the four had participated in an organized criminal group.

17 people were arrested in 2007 after police raided an alleged military-style training group in the Urewera ranges. However, only four remained to stand trial in the Auckland High Court last week.

Valerie Morse, one of the 17 initially arrested, remarked in a media release after the trial that the hung jury indicated that the Crown’s story didn’t “stack up”. She said that supporters of the Urewera Four had always maintained that the organized criminal group charge was laid so that “the Crown could use evidence it knew was illegal in order to secure convictions on firearms charges.”

Contention has been rife in relation to the considerable expense of this trial. The NZ Herald reported that more than $2.8 million of taxpayers’ money would have been spent so far and that this figure was expected to rise.

As to the likelihood of the Crown seeking a retrial, Crown Prosecutor Ross Burns told the NZ Herald that, although a retrial would normally be pursued by the Crown, “it will have to consider it carefully in this case.”

The Urewera Four are to be sentenced on May 24 and the issue of a retrial will be referred to the Auckland High Court sometime next month
This article first appeared in Issue 5, 2012.
Posted 4:26pm Sunday 25th March 2012 by Claudia Herron.