Wider phone tapping considered

By Claire Trevett, Elizabeth Binning

Prime Minister Helen Clark says allowing intercepted telephone conversations to be used as evidence in a wider range of crimes is one possibility to avoid the need for terrorism laws to be used in dealing with future cases such as the Urewera raids.

Helen Clark said the Government had an "open mind" about allowing intercepted communications to be used as evidence in charges under laws such as the Arms Act.

Another option which would allow evidence such as that gathered by police in the Urewera's investigation was to widen the laws of conspiracy, which would give police a wider range of offences to lay charges under.

The Prime Minister's comments follow Solicitor-General David Collins' decision not to allow charges to be laid against 12 people under the Terrorism Suppression Act for their alleged involvement in military-style camps in the Ureweras.

Helen Clark said one of the reasons police tried to use the Terrorism Suppression Act was because they could not use interception evidence in prosecutions under the Arms Act.

"That raises the question in anyone's mind as to whether, had they had the power to use that interception evidence under the Arms Act, they would have pursued that other course."

She said it might be better to consider such options, rather than "rush to the conclusion that a major piece of domestic terrorism legislation is required".

The Terrorism Suppression Act was targeted on international terrorism and ensuring New Zealand met its international obligations to address this, rather than domestic issues.

She said the Law Commission would have a wide brief to look at such issues in its review of the Terrorism Suppression Act, which the Solicitor-General described as "incoherent" and almost impossible to apply to evidence relating to the domestic events he was faced with.

Tuhoe people have begun a hikoi from Bay of Plenty to Wellington. Organisers said the action was aimed at the Terrorism Suppression Act.

Half-a-dozen vehicles carrying people, blankets and sleeping bags set off from Taneatua, 13km south of Whakatane, yesterday morning.

The 30 people who began the hikoi are expected to be joined by others along a route that will take in Rotorua, Taupo and Palmerston North.

They were due to arrive in Taihape last night and plan to be in Wellington tomorrow or Thursday.

A hikoi leader, Te Weti Tihi, said the protest was also about the confiscation of land from Tuhoe.

Tuhoe spokesman Tamati Kruger said it was aimed at highlighting proposed changes to the anti-terrorism law.

All of the 16 accused are now out on bail following another appearance in the Auckland District Court yesterday morning.

Last Thursday, Mr Collins rejected a police application to prosecute the accused under the Terrorism Suppression Act.

His decision allowed lawyers of those still in custody to make new applications for bail.

Tame Iti's Hamilton-based nephew Rawiri Iti was among the group. The 29-year-old machine operator, along with Jamie Lockett and and Tuhoi Lambert, was released on bail with instructions to reappear in the Auckland District Court on December 3.

The fourth accused, 33-year-old Watene Paul McClutchie from Whakatane, can now be named for the first time after a judge said there was no longer any reason for his suppression to continue now that charges were not being laid under the Terrorism Act. McClutchie was also remanded on bail until December 3.

The men were given a range of bail conditions, including not associating with co-accused, not going near Ruatoki, reporting to their local police station twice a week, surrendering their passports and not applying for a firearms licence or being caught with a firearm.

A small number of supporters, some wearing Freedom Fighters T-shirts, were in court for yesterday's appearance.

- additional reporting NZPA

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