Monday, September 05, 2011

Sack Pascoe, Abolish the SIS, Apologise to Tuhoe, Drop all charges

In the wake of the historic Hamed and others v. Queen, Supreme Court decision, the Arms Act charges against 13 of those arrested during the October 15, 2007 anti-terror raids have been dropped. This is a significant victory for the whole country.

As Maui Street put it, I am pleased and the Maori world is pleased.

October 15 was a travesty. As one MP put it, 'Race relations have been set back 100 years'.

Aaron Pascoe, the detective that led this investigation must get sacked. The SIS should be apologised and all the charges against the Tuhoe and left activists dropped.

As Nicky Hager put it in his new book Other Peoples' Wars, “Counter-subversion had been upgraded as part of a government-wide over-reaction to some Maori and left-wing political people attending radical camps in the Urewera. (SIS sources said at the time they were working on something ‘really big’.)”

In the end the really big turned out to be nothing. The case has been a disaster. The cops put the Tuhoe town of Ruatoki under a military-style occupation for a day. Then they told the US embassy the arrested activists would only get fines.

They applied for a judge alone trial, laid criminal gang charges and repeatedly treated the Tuhoe people like criminals.

Omar Hamed, Socialist Aotearoa member and one of those to have had the charges dropped - said the drawn-out process had cost relationships, jobs and homes.

"The stress of it... the stress on your family, friends, relationships and on your work means you cannot plan,'' he said.

"The police used that to try to break us down but none of that worked and we held out.''

Mr Hamed said he received today's news at a protest for West Papua.

"I got the phone call from the lawyer. He said: Oh, you're walking, congratulations.

"Apparently, I owe him lunch.''

Mr Hamed said he always knew that the charges would be dropped.

"It's a real victory for common sense and New Zealand sticking up for human rights.''

His former co-accused, Valerie Morse described the case as a ``disaster from start to finish'' and an indictment on the police.

"They arrested us and put us in prison while they tried to charge us with terrorism. That failed. Now after four years, millions and millions of dollars, and systematic denial of rights to accused, the case has totally failed,'' Ms Morse said.

Veteran activist and protester John Minto said the dropping of the charges was a victory for civil liberties and common sense, but it had come four years too late.

"The saddest thing about this is that for each of these defendants, despite the dropping of the charges, this issue's going to chase them for the rest of their lives because whenever their names go into an internet search they're associated with these terror raids.''

Mr Minto said it was obvious that police had dragged the case out for so long because they wanted to save face after laying the "baseless'' charges.

"It was the most irresponsible police action that I can recall in my lifetime,'' he said.

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