13 Feb 2012

Internet ban for raids jury

7:22 pm on 13 February 2012

The judge presiding in the trial of four people accused of being involved in military-style camps in Te Urewera in Bay of Plenty has prohibited jurors from looking at the internet during the case.

Tame Iti, Emily Bailey, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Urs Signer pleaded not guilty in the High Court at Auckland on Monday to charges of participation in an organised criminal group and unlawful possession of firearms and restricted weapons, including Molotov cocktails, rifles and shotguns.

A jury of 10 women and two men was sworn in on Monday afternoon.

In 2007, police carried out raids of properties in Bay of Plenty, Auckland and Wellington.

Charges against 13 of the group originally accused of being part of the alleged camps in 2006 and 2007 were dropped in September last year after the Supreme Court ruled evidence against them was collected improperly.

Police originally wanted the group to be charged under the Terrorism Suppression Act, but the Solicitor-General said there was insufficient evidence.

About 70 people were rejected from the jury because they either could not take part for personal reasons or because they were challenged by defence or Crown lawyers.

Justice Hansen told jury members there were a lot of blogs and commentary on the Internet about this case because it had a long and somewhat controversial history.

He said the jurors might be tempted to look up stories on this case, but this was not permitted.

Justice Hansen said the case must be decided on what was said inside the court.

Earlier, the judge told potential jurors there had been a lot of publicity around this case and they should ensure they could act impartially.

"A critical question, which you must ask yourself, is whether what you have read or heard, or otherwise been exposed to, or the nature of any associations you might have, has left you with preconceptions."

A Crown lawyer is expected to make his opening on Tuesday.

The Crown will argue that the group would have committed violent offences including murder, arson, intentional damage and endangering transport.