7 Sep 2011

Minister says no police apology over 2007 raids

12:28 pm on 7 September 2011

Police Minister Judith Collins has dismissed calls for police to apologise to people charged over the 2007 raids that now won't face court action.

Seventeen people were to stand trial before the Crown's announcement on Tuesday that just four are now facing charges over the raids in the Ureweras and elsewhere.

The charges relate to alleged military-style training camps in the central North Island and were dropped following a Supreme Court judgement issued last week.

Crown solicitor Simon Moore said on Tuesday the judgement means there is no longer sufficient evidence to charge the group with firearms offences.

Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples says police got it wrong and should apologise to the individuals involved and to the iwi, Tuhoe.

"Investigate them under one act using those privileges that are available to you and then charge them under another act - and this is what's been found. It was over the top and I think there should be some compensation made to the iwi."

Dr Sharples believes the charges have been very damaging to Tuhoe which he says has had a terrorist stigma attached to it.

Green MP Keith Locke says commonsense has prevailed and police should be made to apologise for putting people through four years of unnecessary misery.

However, Police Minister Judith Collins says the case is completely suppressed but there will not be an apology.

"I can say that this is a Supreme Court over-ruling a Court of Appeal decision and I think that consequently, it's not just a matter of getting it wrong."

The Crown is proceeding with its case against four people, including activist Tame Iti, who face firearms charges and being part of an organised criminal group. It expects the trial to begin in February 2012.

Race relations 'put back 100 years'

Charges have been dropped against Omar Hamed, who at 23 is the youngest of those initially arrested. He spent one month in prison when he was 19.

He believes the four-year saga has hurt race relations in New Zealand.

"The police have totally bungled this and it's put race relations back 100 years. We need to start healing those wounds and the first thing police should do is apologise to Tuhoe."

He says they also deserve some sort of redress, and one form would be to give the Urewera back to the Tuhoe people.

Mr Hamed wants the charges against the remaining four dropped and the officer in charge of the operation sacked.

Valerie Morse is also no longer facing charges, but says her battle will not be over until the Crown also drops the case against her two friends.