Brother believes convicted killer will be out by 2009

By Jon Stokes

Convicted killer David Tamihere will be released from Paremoremo prison within two years, says his brother.

Former Labour Party Cabinet minister John Tamihere said yesterday his brother, sentenced to life in prison in 1989 for the murders of Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Urban Hoglin, would be released by 2009.

"By 2009, it will have been 20 years since he went inside. They can't keep him beyond that."

He said his brother was working through a two-year slow release programme.

David Tamihere, 54, is due to be considered for parole in June, although his continued refusal to admit to the murders is likely to ensure his application fails, as with the five previous ones since 2000.

John Tamihere said he supported his brother and believed his claim he did not kill the pair. He said that had David admitted guilt he would likely have already been released.

"He has been a model prisoner. He has done everything by the book - except he maintains his innocence."

Details of the crime shocked the country, including court revelations that David Tamihere tied Mr Hoglin to a tree and sexually abused him before raping Ms Paakkonen.

Mr Hoglin was then beaten to death with a hunk of wood and his fiancee was kept alive for several days during which she was repeatedly raped before being strangled.

Tamihere was convicted although the bodies had not been found.

The case erupted in controversy 10 months later when pig hunters found 23-year-old Mr Hoglin's remains near Whangamata, 70km from where police allege Tamihere killed the couple.

The find also conflicted with the testimony of a police witness who said Tamihere had confessed to cutting up the bodies and throwing them into the ocean. A wristwatch police had claimed Tamihere had given his son was still on the body.

Then a prosecution witness attempted to recant his evidence against Tamihere.

In 1992, the Appeal Court dismissed an appeal, saying there was nothing substantive in defence claims that the skeleton showed new evidence.

Speculation about the killings is likely to be rekindled on Thursday night when a television jury will re-examine the question of Tamihere's guilt or innocence in a TV3 documentary, Inside New Zealand: What's Your Verdict? David Tamihere.

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