Terror raid evidence with Solicitor-General

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Evidence about the operation leading up to this month's police raids is now in the hands of the Solicitor-General for a decision on whether charges can proceed under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Seventeen people were arrested on October 15 following raids in Auckland, Wellington, Palmerston North, Hamilton, Christchurch, Whakatane and Ruatoki, 20km south of Whakatane.

The raids were the culmination of a year-long investigation into weapons training camps alleged to have been held in the Urewera country and netted a haul of weapons.

Police deputy commissioner Rob Pope said police had reviewed the evidence collected over the course of the investigation.

"It has today been referred to the Solicitor-General for consideration whether consent will be given to charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act."

Police would now await the Solicitor-General's decision, Mr Pope said.

Reacting to the announcement that evidence had been handed to the Solicitor-General, the Maori Party said it would continue to speak out about the way it had been collected.

"We stand by our responsibility to our constituency, to speak up and make known the traumatic impact that various stages of the operation have had on community well-being," said co-leader Tariana Turia.

"It is our contention that evidence could have been collected in a much less frightening and disruptive way to families and the wider public, and in a manner consistent with due legal process."

The party's other co-leader, Pita Sharples, said today's police statement suggested the operation ended on October 15.

"And yet we have received other reports that raids are continuing, including one just last Friday on Te Whare Orange Wairua Maori Women's Refuge in Taupo," he said.

Some facts about the Terrorism Suppression Act 2002:

* the law makes it a criminal offence to take part in, finance or recruit for a terrorist organisation or terrorist act;

* planning a terrorist act, or making a "credible threat", is also illegal even if it is not carried out;

* unlike other countries the law does not give police additional powers of arrest or detainment;

* the Attorney-General must give the green light to any prosecutions under the Act, but Michael Cullen has delegated this responsibility to Solicitor-General David Collins;

* under the Act groups can be listed as a designated terrorist entity, but so far no local groups have been designated. Those that have been listed are United Nations designated groups.


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