Operation 8 depositions hearing over - 1 defendant free

The long depositions hearing for 18 of the the Operation 8 defendants has finally finished, with Judge Perkins today committing 17 of them to face trial. 
1 of the arrestees, Rongomai Bailey, had all charges against him dropped. [ Video interview with Bailey from NZ Herald ]

The other 17 arrestees will all face trial, possibly in late 2009 or early 2010. A large number of the charges against the remaining defendants have been dropped. While previously the 18 collectively faced 343 charges under the Arms Act, all charges relating to the camps alleged to have been held in November, April and August have been dropped, heavily reducing the total number of charges.

The 17 remaining arrestees have their next court date on February 17th, for a callover, however all have been excused from appearing provided they are represented by a lawyer.

During his decision, Judge Perkins stated that he felt that one of the main planks of the Crown's case would not hold up at trial. The Crown is attempting to argue that even if it can't show that people held specific weapons, that they were in the same area as the alleged weapons makes them a party to the possession, and therefore guilty of the charges under Section 66(2) of the Crimes Act. Judge Perkins stated that he did not think this was the case.

All 17 have also had their bail conditions altered, including being granted permission to go to Ruatoki this weekend to attend a commemoration for the 1 year anniversary of the raids. All have had their reporting to the police station reduced to once a fortnight as well, and some have had other bail conditions, including non-association orders, dropped.

The Auckland District Court had a large contingent of banner bearing, flag waving protesters outside it (and an even larger contingent of media!), showing that what was done to the arrestees and their communities has not been, and will never be, forgotten.

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