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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pepper-sprayed protester sues police for $50,000


Piripi the chicken and Colonel Simon O (right)

Pepper-sprayed protester sues police for $50,000

A veteran protester is accusing police of assault and wants $50,000 compensation after suffering a week-long headache from being pepper-sprayed, Rotorua District Court was told. Simon Oosterman, of Auckland, was sprayed during a protest at Rotorua's Scion on January 30, 2005, the Daily Post reported. He is seeking costs for assault and breaches of his rights. A three-day hearing into the case began yesterday before Judge Chris McGuire.

Mr Oosterman was charged with resisting and obstructing police following the protest but cleared on both charges. Yesterday, Mr Oosterman's lawyer Graeme Minchin said the issue was whether police actions during the protest were reasonable. Mr Oosterman said he was part of what was intended to be a peaceful but noisy protest organised by the Rotorua GE Free group against genetically modified trees. He said he was pepper-sprayed when he tried to stop police from grabbing the group's media adviser. Mr Oosterman suffers mild asthma and had trouble breathing. He was taken to the police station where he continued to wash out the pepper spray but the pain did not ease. Mr Oosterman went to Rotorua Hospital when he was told to continue putting water in his eyes. "The pain continued for perhaps an hour and afterwards I had a serious headache for over a week," he told the court. The case is continuing.


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