12 Mar 2009

Not guilty pleas entered over charges of assault on PM

12:20 pm on 12 March 2009

Two brothers charged with assaulting Prime Minister John Key at Waitangi this year have entered pleas of not guilty.

John Junior Popata, 33, and Wikatana Popata, 19, appeared in the Kaitaia District Court on Thursday supported by a large group of whanau including Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira.

The brothers earlier indicated they would plead guilty to charges of common assault laid by the police on 5 February when Mr Key was grabbed as he arrived at the Waitangi marae.

The court heard that they had appointed a new lawyer and will now defend the charges.

Outside the court, Mr Harawira said the brothers are his nephews and he will do what he can to help them, including organising a possible meeting with the prime minister, to see if the matter can settled out of court.