Juror said before trial that Iti 'looked guilty'

By Kathryn Powley

Tame Iti has gone to another prison. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Tame Iti has gone to another prison. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A juror in the Urewera terrorism trial said Tame Iti looked guilty before the case even began.

The allegation comes from a person who was summonsed for jury service but was not eventually empanelled for the trial.

The man - who was shortlisted for the jury but excused on medical grounds - claims at least one juror recognised her own bias and asked to be excused, but her request was declined.

He said the woman thought Tame Iti guilty because of his appearance. After expressing her views, she sat on the jury which found Iti, Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara, Urs Signer and Emily Bailey guilty on firearms charges stemming from the 2007 Urewera raids.

On May 24 in the High Court at Auckland, Justice Rodney Hansen sentenced Iti and Kemara to 2 years in prison for firearms charges. Signer and Bailey were given nine months' home detention.

The would-be juror - who cannot be identified - made statements about the trial jury in an online blog soon after his jury experience.

In his posted comments, he said the people who remained in the jury selection room after he was excused were "overwhelmingly middle-class white women". He claimed some in the room had already said Tame Iti "scared" them.

"One of the jurors asked to be excluded because she was convinced he was guilty by how he looked," the blogger said. "She was refused her request to leave and heard the case. Another guy asked to be excluded because he thought the whole exercise was a waste of taxpayer money and resources and he was excluded. How does that work?"

Iti's lawyer Russell Fairbrother was not worried by the allegations. "We were quite happy with the jury," he said.

Iti has appealed against his conviction and sentence.

Yesterday, veteran protester John Minto claimed Iti had been transferred from Mt Eden to Waikeria Prison and Kemara to Springhill. "It seems a clear strategy on the part of police and prison authorities acting together to avoid a proposed prison protest," Minto said.

- Herald on Sunday

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