Maori MPs criticise Urewera judge

  • 24/05/2012

Maori MPs are condemning the judge who handed down jail sentences on Tuhoe activists.

Justice Rodney Hansen on Thursday jailed Tame Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara to two and a half years on firearms charges connected with alleged military-style camps in the Ureweras.

A jury was previously unable to reach a verdict on charges of participating in an organised criminal group.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira says the sentences were "bloody ridiculous".

"The judge simply picked the worst bits out of 67,000 pages of evidence to justify the most extreme interpretation of events," he said.

"It's a waste of time having a jury trial if the judge can retry the case at sentencing ... by vindicating the actions of the police the state has made political prisoners out of them both."

Maori Party MP Te Ururoa Flavell, whose electorate covers the Ureweras, says the sentences shocked him.

"This was never just about the charges or the offences," he said.

"This was about Tuhoe and the mess caused in the lead-up to this sentencing."

Mr Flavell says the harsh sentence was intended to cover up the botched case.

Lawyers for the two men were on Friday preparing to file papers appealing conviction and sentence.


source: newshub archive