13 Mar 2012

Accused wrote music about social justice views - defence

8:30 am on 13 March 2012

A man accused of being involved in military-style camps in Te Urewera National Park in the Bay of Plenty composed music about his social justice views, a court has been told.

Urs Signer, along with his partner Emily Bailey, and Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, have been charged with participating in an organised group and unlawful possession of firearms and restricted weapons.

All four denied the charges when the trial began in the Auckland High Court in February.

The Crown said Mr Signer took part in several training camps and could be seen in video footage throwing molotov cocktails and participating in what a military expert described as an armed military patrol.

In his opening address on Monday, Mr Signer's leading defence lawyer Chris Stevenson told the jury not to associate his client with murder and mayhem.

He said Mr Signer, a Swiss national, has immersed himself in New Zealand and its indigenous culture and music is a very big part of his life.

The court heard evidence from Dougal McKinnon, a lecturer at the New Zealand School of Music who taught Mr Signer for two years from 2004.

Mr McKinnon said Mr Signer, who plays the clarinet, once composed a piece of music about the Louise Nicholas case to demonstrate his social justice views.

He said Mr Signer was a caring and gentle person who showed a great deal of concern for those around him.

Evidence from three witnesses in relation to Mr Signer on Monday was the last to be heard in the case. The Crown will sum up on Tuesday.

The trial was expected to last about three months, but is now in its fifth week and could be over in a few days.