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Tame Iti's lawyer to lodge appeal, seek bail

Published: 7:06AM Monday May 28, 2012 Source: ONE News

Maori activist Tame Iti's lawyer says the judge took the wrong perspective when he sentenced Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara to two-and-a-half years in prison.

Russell Fairbrother says an appeal will be lodged today in the Court of Appeal against his client's conviction and sentence on firearms charges laid following the Urewera raids of 2007.

Hundreds of people have protested against Iti's sentence over the weekend outside Auckland's Mount Eden prison where he is detained.

Fairbrother told TV ONE's Breakfast his argument in the appeal against sentence revolves around a legal point as to what the evidence is that the judge can sentence upon.

The judge said in sentencing last week that Iti could have been facing five or six years in different circumstances.

"He said that and he's entitled to say that, I guess from the perspective he took," Fairbrother said.

"Our complaint is that with due respect to him, he took the wrong perspective. We think he arranged the deck chairs on the boat in a different way from what they should have been."

'No risk to the community'

Fairbrother said he will be applying for bail for Iti, saying he is no risk to the community.

"He was on bail for four years, allowed to travel overseas, came back, complied with his bail and is generally regarded as a fairly upright and straight forward person," he said.

"What you see with Tame Iti is what you get."

The appeal against conviction is based on the judge's directions to the jury, Fairbrother said.

He said he saw Iti in prison on Friday morning and that his client is fairly philosophical.

"He certainly doesn't want to be there but he makes the best of whatever he's got. In fact he's going to write if he stays."

Fairbrother said the appeal process could reasonably be expected to take six to nine months.

The case has already cost the taxpayer an estimated $6 million.

The other two members of the "Urewera four", Urs Signer and Emily Bailey, will be sentenced next month.

Iti, Kemara, Signer and Bailey were convicted in March of the illegal possession of firearms and restricted weapons in Te Urewera National Park in 2007.