Friday, September 05, 2008

Dispatches from Court Day 4 - Operation 8 Depositions Hearing

The Crown Prosecutor is called Mr Burns. I think I would take more pleasure in this, if he was balder and had a long thin nose. He’s more smarmy, for some reason he reminds me of Grant Robertson (the labour candidate for Wellington central), even though there’s no much of a physical resemblance, and I’ve never met grant Robertson.

Anyway, today Mr Burns gave his opening address. I can’t report on most of what he said, because it related to suppressed evidence. But he did explain the crown argument on the nature of group possession. When they charge a group of a dozen people with possession of a firearm (or Molotov cocktails), they’re not necessary going to try and prove that each individual held it, or even saw it. But they’re relying on meeting one of three different thresholds. One is a common law provision that if a group has possession and control of an item, every member is legally in possession of that item (so every member of Peace Action Wellington has group possession of the Peace Action Wellington megaphone). The second is a Crimes Act provision which is that if a group has a common purpose and one person uses a weapon as part of that purpose then everyone is in possession of that weapon (I think the purpose of the group may need to be an illegal purpose, but I'm not a lawyer and don't know fo sure). The third is an Arms Act provision, which states if you are on any land and there is a weapon on that land you are assumed to be possession of that weapon unless you can prove otherwise (lawyers will have to explain how large the land can be - I don't think they can argue that the defendants were in te Urewera, and there were guns in te Urewera therefore the defendants were in possession of the guns. But sometimes it seems like they're trying to). The Crown just has to meet one of these provisions to prove that the defendants were jointly in possession of Firearms. If the Crown succeeds in doing this the defendants will have to prove that they had lawful, proper and sufficient purpose in that posessesion.

I’d never attended a depositions hearing before, so had no idea what a pain in the ass it was. The witnesses give their evidence, and every so often it gets read back to them to confirm the evidence is correct. So you hear everything twice, and it’s not exactly up to the entertainment value of paint drying the first time round.

There had been discussion yesterday about Aaron Pacoe’s fluency in Maori. If he can’t pronounce Ruatoki, he’s not fluent in Maori (even a little bit). The court registrar has similar problems (which is painful, as he reads back each page of the depositions). As a unionist I hold his employer responsible, they should pay for him to be trained in Maori pronunciation, so he doesn’t have a roomful of people mocking his every word. But Aaron Pascoe has no excuse, in fact he appears to believe that correct pronunciation of Maori words is evidence of Terrorist activity.

Court box watch – as has been mentioned before the box outside court has become a bit of a liberated zone. The Tino Rangatiratanga sticker, which had stayed up over Tuesday night, was gone by the time we came into court on Thursday. But by the end of the day there was a leaflet and hand drawn Tino Rangatiratanga flag in its place. There was some fine art work all over court on Thursday– artistic renditions of Aaron Pascoe and a pushchair with a beautiful sign saying “Baby Liberator”

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for these dispatches Maia, it's very good to have a real voice from the inside.

    The third is an Arms Act provision, which states if you are on any land and there is a weapon on that land you are assumed to be possession of that weapon unless you can prove otherwise (lawyers will have to explain how large the land can be - I don't think they can argue that the defendants were in te Urewera, and there were guns in te Urewera therefore the defendants were in possession of the guns. But sometimes it seems like they're trying to).

    How can that be? If I go visit a mate and they have a hunting rifle in the cupboard, am I considered to be in joint possession just because I'm on the land?

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  2. I'm far from an expert - but the way that it works in that circumstance it would be your job to prove that the rifle was your mates not yours.

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  3. Penny Leach1:18 am

    I've been looking through the Arms Act:

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1983/0044/latest/DLM72622.html?search=ts_act_arms+act

    and while there are plenty of things about unlawful possession, I can't find any reference to a definition of possession.

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  4. Penny Leach1:21 am

    Clearly I spoke too soon:

    http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1983/0044/latest/DLM73354.html?search=ts_act_arms+act#DLM73354

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  5. That's really bad.

    Occupier of premises or driver of vehicle deemed to be in possession of firearm, airgun, pistol, imitation firearm, restricted weapon, or explosive found therein

    For the purposes of this Act every person in occupation of any land or building or the driver of any vehicle on which any firearm, airgun, pistol, imitation firearm, restricted weapon, or explosive is found shall, though not to the exclusion of the liability of any other person, be deemed to be in possession of that firearm, airgun, pistol, imitation firearm, restricted weapon, or explosive, unless he proves that it was not his property and that it was in the possession of some other person.


    Does the rest of the Act contextualise that somehow? I'm struggling to understand why the law would have been written that way.

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