John Minto: 'Police singled me out'

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
john minto
GRAHAME COX / Fairfax NZ
JOHN MINTO: Appealing obstruction conviction.

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Veteran protester John Minto says he was singled out by police for arrest at a protest against state house removals in Glen Innes.

Minto and fellow protester Hagen Robertson were found guilty of obstruction at Auckland District Court on August 10, but escaped penalties.

The pair appealed against their obstruction convictions at the High Court in Auckland yesterday.

"It was a token protest, a peaceful protest," Minto said during the appeal hearing.

"There was six people putting their bodies on the road in a passive, non-violent way and in a way the police could have dealt with easily."

The pair were arrested in April 2012 for their role in obstructing a truck attempting to remove a state house from Glen Innes.

Minto, best known for his protests during the 1981 Springbok tour, said police singled him out: "My arrest was quite deliberate."

Robertson was arrested when he climbed onto the removal truck. A third person was also charged with obstruction but later discharged without conviction.

The pair represented themselves at High Court.

Crown prosecution lawyer Ian Auld said police made numerous failed attempts to remove the protesters from the path of the truck.

This was a clear case of obstructing the road to block the truck and police arrested protesters as a last resort, he said.

Justice Raynor Asher reserved his decision on the appeal case.

A number of protesters, including Mana Party leader Hone Harawira, appeared before the courts last year following arrests at Glen Innes protests.

Housing New Zealand plans to move 40 state houses from Glen Innes and redevelop 156 houses to create 260 new homes.

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