15 Feb 2012

Police officer heard shots at Te Urewera

4:06 pm on 15 February 2012

A police officer giving evidence at the trial of four people charged over para-military camps at Te Urewera National Park has described hearing shots.

Urs Signer, Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Emily Bailey are on trial at the High Court in Auckland, accused of being part of an organised criminal group and unlawful possession of firearms.

The Crown claims they were planning to create a revolutionary army to carry out guerrilla warfare, and were willing to kidnap and murder to get self governance for the Tuhoe people.

A police officer, who has name suppression, told the court he heard numerous shots in the area on a number of occasions.

He says on one occasion he heard a volley of shots every five minutes for an hour and heard a male voice giving military-style commands.

The officer told the court he believes he heard a gun with a silencer, as well as a semi-automatic weapon.

Surveillance questioned

A defence lawyer for one those accused of taking part in military training in Te Urewera National Park has questioned whether video surveillance footage really paints a full and accurate picture of what was taking place.

Detective Inspector Geoff Jago oversaw the installation of surveillance cameras near what the Crown claims were miltary-style training camps in Te Urewera.

In cross-examination on Wednesday morning, Mr Kemara's defence lawyer, Jeremy Bioletti, asked him if the cameras had captured the entirety of activities.

Detective Inspector Jago said in reply that there were activities that were out of sight of the cameras.

On Tuesday he told the court that police officers found bottles with liquid that he suspected were to be used as molotov cocktails.

The jury was shown footage of balaclava-clad people with guns.

Defence lawyers have told the court their clients are peace activists and were not forming a revolutionary army.