5:00AM Friday October 26, 2007
Tame Iti's case to be heard in Auckland
National, Labour 'bad as each other'
A 72-year-old socialist worker who has been protesting against the "anti-terror" raids had his own home searched by police yesterday over an alleged kidnapping.
Jimmy O'Dea, a veteran trade unionist who has prostate cancer, said he had no idea why eight carloads of police arrived in the afternoon at his Bastion Pt home armed with a search warrant.
"I was at home with my wife and kid and my dog started barking. I thought someone was there so I went out and I couldn't believe it - there were police everywhere.
"I said, 'Are you the anti-terrorist searchers?' and they ummed and ahhhed. They said, 'We have got to search your house' and they showed me the warrant and said, 'You better read it'."
The search warrant, which was granted by a district court judge on Tuesday, said police had reasonable grounds to believe that a number of items, including clothing, a chrome pistol and ammunition, hunting knife, pliers and a baseball bat, were at the house.
The items were believed to be evidence of kidnapping, threatening to cause grievous bodily harm, blackmail and commission of a crime with a firearm.
However, Mr O'Dea said he had no knowledge of any kidnapping or similar crime. "I don't commit crime like they are talking about. I was flabbergasted, to be honest."
Solidarity Union secretary Joe Carolan said Mr O'Dea was helping to distribute pamphlets for a coming protest against the "terror raids" so the timing of the search on his own home was a strange coincidence.
"We want to know why they think Jimmy is a bloody suspect, given he's 72 years old."
Police spokeswoman Noreen Hegarty said Mr O'Dea was not a suspect in the kidnapping, nor did it have anything to do with the "anti-terror raids" or Mr O'Dea's stance on them.
Ms Hegarty said the warrant was in relation to another man who was arrested on Tuesday after his own home was searched.
The arrested man had given Mr O'Dea's address on his bail form so police had sought a new warrant and searched the property looking for evidence of the kidnapping.
"It has absolutely nothing to do with any events to do with last week's raids."
Mr O'Dea said last night he did not know the arrested man but had received mail addressed to a person in recent months. It was not clear if it was the same person who had been arrested this month.
From TVNZ news
A long-time activist and friend of Tame Iti is labelling as "overkill" a police raid on his own home.
Seventy-two-year-old Jimmy O'Dea's house in Auckland has been searched but authorities say it has nothing to do with terrorism.
It all started with O'Dea's three border terriers.
"I heard the dogs barking and I went to the front door and opened it and the place was covered in police," O'Dea says.
Neighbours say eight car loads of officers came through O'Dea's front door.
"I said what are you searching for and they wouldn't tell me," he says.
Police produced a search warrant saying they were looking for a pistol, cell phone and ammunition.
This was going to be quite a search because O'Dea has lived there 50 years and likes to keep his things close.
"They found nothing as far as I know," he says.
It's not the first time the police and O'Dea have not seen eye to eye.
During the 1981 Sprinkbok tour they came through the back door O'Dea lost a battle with a police baton during a protest.
Before that it was the 1975 land marches and the 1978 occupation of Bastion Point.
O'Dea is an Irishman who has stood beside Maori in many a protest. He has known Tama Iti for 30 years and knows those arrested two weeks ago.
But according to police, Thursday's search has nothing to do with terrorism or Iti.
They say is was all about a kidnap suspect arrested further up the street on Tuesday.
Police also also say five cars not eight showed up as neighbours claimed.
But it does say something about the current climate that a search warrant at an activist's house is suddenly news.
And O'Dea thinks it is all to do with what happened in Ruatoki early last week when police raided suspected guerilla training camps and made a number of arrests for alleged weapons offences.
"In the 50 years I've lived in this house and the 50 years I've lived in New Zealand I have never seen anything like this in my life," he says.