27 Feb 2012

Defence Force officer gives evidence in Urewera trial

4:48 pm on 27 February 2012

A Defence Force officer has agreed that people filmed conducting alleged military-style camps in Te Urewera National Park in the Bay of Plenty could have learnt most of the military techniques from movies or the internet.

Tame Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey are accused of participating in an organised criminal group and illegally possessing firearms.

The lieutenant-colonel, who was granted name suppression because of the extreme security risk to the Defence Force, was giving evidence for the Crown at the Auckland High Court on Monday.

CCTV footage was captured by various hidden cameras in the days leading up to police raids in September 2007.

The officer told the court that the people filmed in a video are skilled at conducting military drills and use hand signals consistent with the New Zealand Army in combat zones.

He said they have also learnt and can easily conduct the four main group formations the army uses when under attack.

Under cross-examination, the officer agreed that most of the drills and the footage are not top secret, and could easily be seen in movies or on the internet.

He acknowledged that a number of other organisations use the same hand gestures as the army.

Earlier, the officer told the court that the group members were also walking in single file through hilly terrain and keeping apart from each other, which is what soldiers do to ensure they do not draw attention from potential insurgents.

However, the officer said the people in the videos lacked some military knowledge, as they were not well camouflaged and their weapons were visible.