Jared Savage

Jared Savage is the New Zealand Herald's investigations editor.

Most expensive case in NZ history

A roadblock in the Ruatoki Valley during the anti-terrorism raids. Photo / Alan Gibson
A roadblock in the Ruatoki Valley during the anti-terrorism raids. Photo / Alan Gibson

More than $2.8 million of taxpayers' money has been spent on legal aid for the 18 people arrested in the Urewera raids - and the bill is likely to rise even higher.

Figures released to the Herald show more than $1 million in legal aid has been paid to defence lawyers for the four who stood trial in the High Court at Auckland.

But the total bill for Tame Iti, Urs Signer, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara and Emily Bailey will be much larger once their lawyers file invoices to the Ministry of Justice for the five-week trial which ended on Tuesday.

The legal aid bill for a fifth defendant, Tuhoe Lambert, was $132,692. He died before the trial started.

A further $1.63 million has been paid to the lawyers of 13 other accused whose charges from the October 2007 raids were dropped last year when the Supreme Court ruled the evidence against them was gathered unlawfully.

The $2.83 million paid in legal aid for the defence so far is more than the 2009 retrial of David Bain, which cost taxpayers more than $2 million.

Figures released by the Crown Law Office show $322,412 was spent on prosecutors to work on the case up until the trial started in mid-February. This is also expected to rise once invoices for the trial have been filed.

The police have declined to give a detailed breakdown of costs, but have provided an "aggregate figure" of $500,462.

The case was taken through the District Court, High Court, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, which increased the total cost of the prosecution.

The total of $3.65 million makes it the most expensive case in New Zealand history.

And the Crown could seek a second trial for Iti, Signer, Kemara and Bailey after the jury was unable to reach a verdict on the charge of participating in an organised crime group. That decision will be announced at a call-over hearing on April 18.

The four will be sentenced on May 24 on the firearms charges the jury found them guilty of.

RISING BILL

Legal aid: $2.83 million and rising
Crown: $322,412 and rising
Police: $500,462
TOTAL: $3.65 million so far.

- NZ Herald

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