Thursday, 8 November 2007

No terror charges for the Urewera 17!

The Solicitor-General has decided not to authorise the police to prosecute the "Urewera 17" under the Terrorism Suppression Act. The Solicitor General has also endorsed the argument of Socialist Worker that the current TSA is an inoperative piece of legislation. Now most of the Urewera 17 are charged with only offences under the Firearms Act - most of which seem to be only charges of handling an unlicenced firearm, and most of which seem to relate to one and the same firearm. Unless the police can show any evidence that any of them are liable to harm people or evade prosecution, there is now no longer any justification to keep any of these people in jail without trial. Bail them all - NOW! No terror charges to be laid by police Solicitor General David Collins QC announced this afternoon the cases did not warrant prosecution under the Terrorism Suppression Act. 4:03PM Thursday November 08, 2007 By Edward Gay The police are not charging any of the so-called Urewera 16 under the Terrorism Suppression Act, despite using the legislation to search homes last month. Police took 12 of the 16 cases to the Solicitor General last month who assessed the police's evidence. Solicitor General David Collins QC announced this afternoon that the cases did not warrant prosecution under the act but could go ahead under the Arms Act. Mr Collins told a media conference that he had read hundreds of pages of communications and viewed photographs and video footage. "Regrettably not all the evidence I have been able to see will be made public," Mr Collins said. "The key reason I am not prepared to authorise prosecutions under the act is there is insufficient evidence to establish to the very high standard required that a group was preparing a terrorist act," Mr Collins said. He said his decision was not a criticism of the police who had no doubt "put an end to disturbing activities". Mr Collins criticised the legislation and said it should be reviewed by the Law Commission. He said it was complex and incoherent and was almost impossible to apply to domestic terrorists. But he said a lot of the evidence will be made public during the up-coming trials. "Police were following proper practice under the Terrorism Supersession Act," Mr Collins said. Peter Williams QC is representing residents of Ruatoki who have complained about the way armed police searched their homes last month. Mr Williams said the Solicitor General's decision was a wise one and he was personally pleased with it. "In a small way they have contributed to the hysteria possibly being emitted by certain aspects of the prosecution but on the other hand it's not the issue the people of Ruatoki are looking at, they're looking at whether or not there was a form of terrorism by the police themselves," Mr Williams said.

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