Police 'put smuggling case in Dotcom category'

DAVID CLARKSON
Last updated 11:43 25/10/2012

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Police have agreed to pay a total of more than $2000 to four Chinese men after breaching the legal requirements for laying people-smuggling charges against them.

The law required the police to get the consent of the attorney-general when the charges were laid in July.

The police did not have the permission at the time, and three months later they have still not got permission, says the defence counsel for some of the men, Gerald Lascelles.

At the time of the arrest, Lascelles told the Christchurch District Court, there was no major people-smuggling operation as the police had alleged. 

"Police put this into the 'Mr Dotcom' category and really overstepped the mark," he said.

Four of the five men accused appeared in court today and were remanded to November 15 in line with a police request to have more time to prepare their case.

Lascelles and the other defence counsel, Serina Bailey, said the defence agreed to that.

Lascelles told Judge Emma Smith that because they had proceeded without permission, the police had agreed to pay $560 in costs to each accused.

The judge granted the remand and made an order for that payment to be made in each case.

As part of the remand on bail, the police had agreed to reduce the men's requirements for reporting to the police station. They will now have to report only once a week instead of twice.

The men are charged in relation to allegations that they arranged for unauthorised immigrants to enter Australia between 2007 and 2010 in Christchurch.

Police allege that they travelled to Australia, reported their passports missing and then applied for temporary documents to return to New Zealand. In the meantime, their passports were used to allow unauthorised migrants to enter Australia.

No pleas have been entered.

Jia Ma, 35, of Waltham, a commercial cleaner, is charged with dishonestly using an application for Australian transit visa and arranging for an unauthorised migrant to enter Australia.

Le Tan, a 28-year-old courier, of Riccarton, is charged with making a false statement, passing on a passport knowing it would be sold, dishonestly using an application for an Australia transit visa and unlawful possession of a rifle.

Hao Tan, a 34-year-old retailer, of Halswell, is charged with a passport offence, dishonestly using a transit visa application, making a false statement about a lost passport and arranging for an unauthorised migrant to enter Australia.

Lin Sang, 29, a shop manager, of Riccarton, faces charges of arranging for an unauthorised migrant to enter Australia and dishonestly using a transit visa application.

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- The Press

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