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The Court Report - Supreme Court ruling on the terror raids

Police operations have been thrown into disarray after the Supreme Court ruling on the Urewera terror raids found police gathered their evidence unlawfully. 

Of the original seventeen arrested in October 2007 only four now face trial on charges under the Crimes Act of participating in an organized criminal group. 

Secrecy has surrounded the case for four years but late last week suppression orders were lifted allowing all to see what the courts have been batting back and forth for so long. 

In a final ruling the Supreme Court found that almost all of the evidence gathered against the original 17 defendants was unlawfully and improperly obtained. 

Prior to the raid in October 2007, police had spent a year gathering evidence against people they believed were operating military style camps in the Ureweras for the purpose of seizing Tuhoe land by force. 

Police were granted search warrants to collect evidence but that wasn’t all they did. In some cases they trespassed on to private land to film the movements of people coming and going. They also set up surveillance cameras in the bush and left them there to collect at a later date. And in New Zealand police aren’t allowed to do that. 

As a result of the judgment police have suspended all video surveillance, and the Government has announced it will pass urgent legislation to make covert surveillance lawful. 

The ramifications of the Supreme Court ruling are significant to say the least, and a win for proponents of the Bill of Rights. 

So if police suspect you of a crime, what can they do to collect evidence against you? 

Or more importantly, what are they not allowed to do?

Barrister Tavake Barron Afeaki has been involved since the beginning. One of his clients has had charges dropped but he’s still working with another who will face trial in February. He’s joined by Police Association President Greg O’Connor to interpret what the Supreme Court ruling means and the Government’s urgent response. 

Also on The Court Report this week, one of the newest admissions to the bar who may just be the most qualified. 

Ben Paradza was a High Court Judge in Zimbabwe until 2006. He was appointed to the judiciary by President Robert Mugabe but it was Mugabe’s regime that saw him thrown in prison for “obstructing the course of justice”.

The charges were of course trumped up. Ben Paradza had made judicial decisions  the Mugabe regime disagreed with. He was forced to flee immediately; his family followed some months later and together they resettled in New Zealand. 

And now 25 years after he was first admitted to the bar, he’s been admitted again, here in New Zealand. Ben Paradza’s story is remarkable and we’re lucky he’s here to tell it.

The Court Report is filmed in front of a live studio audience at the Victoria University Law School on the site of the historic Old Government Buildings at 6.30pm on Tuesday evening. Join us in LT2, just off Stout St. 

The show is broadcast on TVNZ7 on Thursday at 9.30pm and replayed several times during the week. The Court Report is broadcast on both Freeview and Sky 77.  It’s also available online at www.tvnz.co.nz/the-court-report

The Court Report also has a Facebook page where you’ll find more content and information about how to be part of the studio audience.

Last updated on the 6th July 2016