Yes, folks, the trial of the Urewera
18, 16, 15, 4 has finally got under way this morning in Auckland’s High Court.
So we may finally hear some facts about what this motley lot are accused of, rather than the self-serving soft-soaping they and their chums have been peddling on their behalf.
It has now been four and a half years since the 18 were arrested. Four and a half years! Four and a half years in which the crown muddled while defendants and their lawyers and their friends in the media churned out press releases, interviews and media events in their defence. In the absence of a real trial we had instead a trial by media—a “trial” in which defendants were feted while all the substantive evidence against them was suppressed at the behest of their own lawyers!
But let’s not accept any crocodile tears about how long it’s taken for this crew to finally get before the court—like the crocodile tears John Minto et al were crying this morning about how tough it’s been for them to be on bail for so long. Because right from day one of this whole debacle, the Urewera
18, 16, 15, 4 and their lawyers have been using every delaying tactic in the book. (That their requests for suppression only delayed proceedings even longer puts their crocodile tears now over the delays into damning perspective.) But if a justice system cannot pull together a case in four years, while fending off the shysters out looking for a loophole, that’s a pretty serious indictment of the system’s failure.
And while out on bail Tame Iti was allowed to dance his way around Europe on the taxpayer.
Only in New Zealand, one suspects, would a man facing charges of participating in an organised criminal group, unlawful possession of firearms and possession of restricted weapons be allowed to swan off around Europe on a dance tour while taxpayers sit here at home picking up his tab.
So let’s hope we finally do hear some facts in coming days. Or else we’ll be left to conclude only that our “justice” system is little more than a laughing stock.