Revealed: What cops filmed in Ureweras

By Edward Gay, Andrew Koubaridis

Police charged 18 people over alleged terrorism 
activities in the Ureweras. Photo / Alan Gibson
Police charged 18 people over alleged terrorism activities in the Ureweras. Photo / Alan Gibson

Members of the "Urewera 18" group threw Molotov cocktail fire bombs and fired semi-automatic weapons at training camps in the bush, court documents show.

Details of the evidence against some of those charged after police raids triggered by the Urewera incidents can be reported for the first time following the release of a previously suppressed judgment.

The evidence reveals what police saw in the Ruatoki Valley between 2005 and 2007, and how officers say they identified people at the camps through the clothing they wore.

The Supreme Court ruled the videos inadmissible because they were obtained illegally so could not form part of the case against 13 people facing firearms charges alone.

The charges against those people were dropped this month.

But the Supreme Court ruled the videos could be used against four others - including Tuhoe leader Tame Iti - who face the more serious charge of participating in an organised criminal group.

In a September 2009 hearing in the High Court at Auckland before Justice Helen Winkelmann, the Crown successfully argued that evidence collected against Valerie Morse, who was facing charges of possession of a firearm or a restricted weapon, was admissible.

Evidence from Detective Sergeant Aaron Pascoe was given to the hearing that film and photographs of a September 2007 camp showed a woman he said was Ms Morse holding an object believed to be a Molotov cocktail.

The person carried the object out of the view of the camera and returned a short time later without it.

Mr Pascoe was to give evidence that he believed she threw the Molotov cocktail into an outdoor oven, where police later found remnants of Molotov cocktails.

He concluded the person in the film and photographs was Ms Morse because that person was wearing clothing the same as Ms Morse was seen wearing when she was observed on her way to Ruatoki.

In both cases, the clothing was three-quarter trousers, two-tone footwear and a black long-sleeved, round-neck t-shirt.

That was the only basis for the identification because in all the images her face was concealed.

The judge said other evidence tended to corroborate the identification. Ms Morse was seen travelling into the area before the camp, and police found the t-shirt at her house.

Two surveillance cameras were set up and showed a group of people "milling about" the area. Some were running down a path towards where the burnt-out oven was later found.

Many people moving in different directions were shown in the video film, and one person - not the person alleged to be Ms Morse - could be seen making the throwing motion with an object in his hand.

Photos of a person holding a pistol in various military type poses were said to be of Ms Morse.

Two pistols later seized by police were found to be unable to discharge a shot although an attempt to modify one appeared to have been made.

Justice Winkelmann disagreed with Ms Morse's suggestion that because only non-firing guns were found, no functional pistols were used.

Also brought to the court was a CD of gunshot sounds recorded on the Tuhoe land in the Urewera Ranges.

Lawyers for the accused argued that the gunshot recordings could not be played in court because they had been made by the police illegally and had been edited.

Police edited the recordings and took out snippets of conversations overheard by some of the people who attended the camps.

Justice Winkelmann found that the evidence was relevant to show that guns were used at the camps.

THE EVIDENCE

* One person was seen throwing an object said to be a Molotov cocktail.
* A woman who police say was former accused Valerie Morse was photographed holding a pistol.
* Court documents show two people at the Urewera camps will give evidence of what happened there.
* Police also had recordings of gunshots heard at the camps.

- NZ Herald

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