Urewera trial: Iti suspects phone spying

By Yvonne Tahana/APNZ

Urewera Four member Tame Iti says he has thrown his cellphone away because of his suspicions of police surveillance.

Iti was found guilty of several firearms charges in March with Emily Bailey, Urs Signer and Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara over the Urewera raids of 2007.

But the "Urewera Four" will not be re-tried on a charge of belonging to an organised criminal group.<inline type="poll" id="5056" align="outside"/>

APNZ understands that the Crown will file an application for a stay of proceedings relating to the charge which a High Court jury failed to return a unanimous verdict on in March.

The stay of proceedings - to be filed at the High Court at Auckland today - means that no retrial will go ahead.

Iti yesterday claimed the Search and Surveillance Act, passed this year, makes him an easier target for police.

"I've thrown my phone away to stop them keeping a tab of me using the phone as a GPS. It's always a possibility they will always be monitoring my location ...

they can do it under that new law.

"Once it used to be unlawful and now unlawful becomes lawful - that's scary stuff."

Auckland University associate law professor Scott Optican said the new law does not make it easier to snoop.

"That's definitely a sort of exaggerated and unnecessary response [to throw out a cellphone] because the whole point of the act is to set up a general controlled regime for both audio and visual electronic surveillance by the police of the activities of citizens," he said.

Iti will be sentenced on the firearms charges on May 24.

It is understood none of the Urewera Four will be retried on a charge of belonging to an organised criminal group.

Crown prosecutor Ross Burns said he could not comment before the callover at the High Court at Auckland today.

 - NZ Herald

- Rotorua Daily Post

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