Friday, 09 Nov 2007
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Tame Iti freed after terror ruling

By KIM RUSCOE - Fairfax Media | Friday, 9 November 2007
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CRAIG SIMCOX/Dominion Post

'ACT TOO COMPLEX': Solicitor-General David Collins said police had due cause for their investigation and acted properly in referring the matter to him, but the evidence did not meet the criteria outlined in the legislation. If it had 'it is quite possible charges could have been authorised'.

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Maori activist Tame Iti and five others arrested in the so-called anti-terror raids last month, have been released on bail as a result of yesterday's announcement that terrorism charges could not be laid against them.
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The 55-year-old mental health worker from Whakatane is to released on bail this afternoon following an appeal hearing in the High Court at Auckland.

His son Toi, his partner and children were in court to witness his release.

Also released were Valerie Morse, 36, a 23-year-old man who has name suppression, Emily Bailey, 30 - all from Wellington - and Omar Hamed, 19, of Auckland were granted bail in the High Court this afternoon.

The public gallery was packed with supporters as the four accused appeared in the dock together, surrounded by six security officers.

At least two police officers guarded the doors.

Although others released on bail have been ordered not to associate with their co--ccused, Bailey is allowed to associate with her co-accused twin brothers Ira and Rongomai Bailey.

She was refused a request to be also allowed to associate with Morse.

All face several firearms charges and are due to appear in the Auckland District Court on December 3.

Earlier Whiri Andrew Kemara, 38, of Auckland was released on bail after he appeared in Auckland District Court this morning, charged with eight firearms charges.

Police didn't oppose bail because of the change in circumstances after the Solicitor-General yesterday refused to allow terrorism charges to be laid against those arrested in the raids.

Solicitor-General David Collins, QC, has refused to allow terrorism charges to be laid against 12 people arrested in the raids, though he said there was evidence of some "very disturbing activities".

Maori lawyer Moana Jackson, who acts for the most high profile of the accused, Tame Iti, warned that Dr Collins' ruling, which leaves the 12 and four others facing only firearms charges, was not the end of the matter.

"There will almost certainly be civil action taken against the police for their behaviour and abuse of the rights of innocent bystanders," said Mr Jackson, who is also director of Te Hau Tikanga, the Maori Law Commission.

His warning came as Police Commissioner Howard Broad conceded the raids, which had the small community of Ruatoki sealed off by armed police, had badly damaged relations with Tuhoe, which could take decades to heal.

"We are deeply concerned at the impact the operation has had on the people ... who are connected to Tuhoe. We clearly appreciate that people were caught up in the termination of the operation who were innocent. We regret the hurt and stress caused to the community of Ruatoki and we will seek an appropriate way to repair the damage done to police-Maori relations."

He stopped short of issuing a general apology, saying it would be seen as a "glib attempt" to mend bridges and be a disservice to staff doing their duty.

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira said any apology by Mr Broad would be insincere and that he should resign.

Police Minister Annette King signalled Mr Broad's job was safe for now and she had confidence in his integrity.

Dr Collins said yesterday that police could not lay charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act because they had not met the high thresholds required. He severely criticised the law, saying it was so complex it was virtually impossible to apply to domestic cases.

Mr Jackson's anger at how Ruatoki residents were treated during the raids, which included many being stopped and photographed at roadblocks and allegations a bus full of children was boarded, led to him resigning this week as patron of the latest police recruit wing.

He could not stand by police when Maori had been unjustly and unlawfully treated, he said.

"It will eventually come out some of the behaviour of the police in Ruatoki on October 15 was not just a breach of human rights, it was appallingly violent, it was grossly unacceptable behaviour."

He called for an independent review of the police operation and a repeal of the Terrorism Suppression Act. He was also critical of Prime Minister Helen Clark's public statements referring to napalm bombs and terrorist camps, which he said breached the rules of sub judice.

A lot of fence mending would be needed to repair the relationship with Maori, he said.

Additional reporting by EMILY WATT and MARTIN KAY

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