29 Oct 2012

Court rejects Urewera Four's appeal

9:48 pm on 29 October 2012

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by the so-called Urewera Four to have their sentences and convictions thrown out.

Tuhoe activist Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were appealing on Monday against their two-and-a-half year jail sentences and firearms convictions for their role in military-style camps in Te Urewera National Park in 2007.

Urs Signer and Emily Bailey also had appeals against their sentences of nine months' home detention dismissed.

All argued that pre-trial publicity denied them a fair trial at the Auckland High Court. They also cited aspects of the summing up, as well as facts used by the judge in sentencing.

The four argued there was a miscarriage of justice, pointing to a failure by the judge to instruct the jury properly.

But the Court of Appeal ruled that the publicity did not give rise to a risk of an unfair trial. It says the judge was open to consider the facts he did and that there can be no real argument that the sentences imposed were wrong.

Iti, Kemara, Signer and Bailey were sentenced in March this year.

Supreme Court appeal possible

Tame Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme on Monday his client will be too upset to make a decision at the moment, but it is likely he will want to lodge an appeal with the Supreme Court.

"The point is really a matter of self-respect and getting the matter right. Tame Iti right from the outset has said he's not a terrorist.

"What he was doing was not harmful to the community and he has been following a peaceful path for a very long time."