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Tame Iti wins parole

Published: 1:26PM Thursday February 14, 2013 Source: ONE News

Controversial Maori activist Tame Iti has been granted parole.

Iti was one of four people found guilty in the High Court in Auckland of firearms offences over alleged military-style camps in the Urewera Ranges. He was sentenced to two and a half years' jail last May.

With no minimum imprisonment date set, he became eligible for parole and earlier tweeted that he hoped the board would show him some love on Valentine's Day.

Later he tweeted that he couldn't wait to see his whanau.

The board said it is satisfied Iti no longer poses an undue risk to the safety of the community. He will be released on February 27.

 

Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara was given the same sentence as Iti and will come before the board on Monday.

Urs Signer and Emily Bailey were also found guilty of firearms offences and are serving home detention sentences.

Iti was arrested during the 2007 Urewera raids, with the Crown alleging military-style training camps were being held in the Ruatoki area throughout 2006 and 2007.

The Crown claimed the group was planning to use guerrilla warfare to achieve self-determination in the Tuhoe region if Treaty of Waitangi negotiations with the Crown fell through.

The jury was unable to decide whether they were part of an organised criminal group.

Lawyer Russell Fairbrother said his client was acting lawfully, and that the jury did not understand the Tuhoi culture. "There is no evidence at all that people were perturbed," Fairbrother said.

The raids caused a public outcry and ignited a bitter race row at the time. There were claims armed officers had boarded buses brandishing guns and traumatising Tuhoe children.

Police Commissioner Peter Marshall apologised to the innocent people affected, saying: "To those people in Ruatoki who were inconvenienced, distressed or fearful, who were innocent, I say I regret that they were in that situation"

But he made no apology for the investigation, arrests or prosecution.

"They were serious matters, people involved with discharging hundreds of rounds of ammunition, Molotov cocktails, they were involved with making threats against New Zealanders, threatening to kill New Zealanders, they were talking about explosive devices. Absolutely no apologies," Marshall said at the time of the firearms convictions.

The Green Party said the sentences given to Iti and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara were at the "harsh end of the scale".

"They can rightly feel they were punished more for the serious charges that the Crown failed to prove, than for those they were eventually convicted of," justice spokesperson David Clendon said.

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