1 Sep 2008

Raids case logistical nightmare for court

7:01 pm on 1 September 2008

A depositions hearing for many of those arrested in last year's nationwide police raids is proving a logistical nightmare for the Auckland District Court.

On Monday, 18 of the 20 accused appeared in relation to the raids on 15 October, facing charges including illegally possessing firearms, ammunition and explosives.

Case work on another defendant will be entered in Tauranga District Court.

The hearing in Auckland has been subject to many delays - mostly because of the sheer number of defendants involved.

The accused have had to present themselves to the court and have the charges against them read out. Some are said to have committed more than 30 offences, including possessing military style weapons.

The task is expected to also take up much of Tuesday.

There may be further delays, as more than one defence lawyer has indicated they may argue for a blanket suppression order to be put on proceedings.

Among matters under consideration is an application for a Maori translation of the proceedings.

Security was tight at the Auckland hearing with police, Maori wardens and security guards present. People protested outside the court and friends and family of the accused were in the public gallery.

The raids focused on the Bay of Plenty settlement of Ruatoki and a suspected training camp in the Urewera ranges. Properties were also searched in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Wellington.

Charges were initially brought under the Terrorism Suppression Act but those were thrown out when the Solicitor-General determined there was insufficient evidence and the legislation was flawed.

The Tuhoe iwi says it is confident the Crown's case will be found wanting.