Urewera activists face being parted

Couple may be forced apart by convictions

Last updated 08:39 23/08/2012
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FAIRFAX NZ
Urs Signer and Emily Bailey might be forced apart if he is deported because of his convictions.

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Activists Emily Bailey and Urs Signer may be parted if their convictions for possession of firearms during the Urewera training camps are upheld.

The Court of Appeal was told yesterday that Signer, a Swiss man with New Zealand residency, could face deportation if his convictions were not overturned.

Bailey, with whom he has a son, may not be allowed into Switzerland if her convictions stand.

The couple were living in Wellington when the raids leading to their arrest took place in October 2007 but now live at Parihaka in Taranaki. They served about a month of their sentences of nine their appeals suspended the sentences.

The Court of Appeal reserved its decisions on the convictions and sentences appeals of Signer, Bailey, Tuhoe activist Tame Wairere Iti, and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara.

Iti and Kemara are both serving 2 1/2 year jail terms. They have already had one application for bail refused pending the appeal decision and may make another application, Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother said.

They were found guilty of unlawfully having firearms and molotov cocktails, but the jury could not agree on a charge that they had been part of an organised criminal group. That charge will not proceed to another hearing.

For Signer, Christopher Stevenson said that over the years the Crown case had dropped from asserting an armed uprising was planned to take control of Tuhoe land, to a 'plan B' that if negotiations did not settle Tuhoe grievances armed action may be taken perhaps decades in the future.

The threat of violence from 'anti-social contemplation' was so remote that it did not amount to taking part in an organised criminal group. That charge should not have been part of the trial but ended up dominating it, Mr Stevenson said.

The pre-trial publicity, some of it still suppressed, created an unfair trial, he said. Media speculation about what had been going on was so memorable that the usual 'fade factor' - that jurors' memories would lessen by the time of the trial - did not apply.

The Crown's lawyer, Ross Burns, said the jury's verdicts were conservative and convictions came only where the jury saw video recordings showing what was happening at the camps, who had weapons and who was there.

Mr Burns said he did not accept that peaceful negotiation was the group's primary aim. They were training specifically for violence. Fairfax NZ

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- Taranaki Daily News

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