A Bay of Plenty man charged in relation to the so-called terror raids has won his bid to keep his case in the region.
A Crown application to transfer Raunatiri Hunt's case from Tauranga to Auckland was rejected yesterday because a judge said it was "contrary to the interests of justice".
Hunt, 44, was arrested on February 19 at Maketu, 30km southeast of Tauranga, and faces seven joint charges of unlawfully possessing firearms under the Firearms Act.
He had opposed the attempt by the Crown to move his case to Auckland for a depositions hearing with 18 others accused in the raids, on the basis that there was little evidence against him.
Yesterday's hearing in the Tauranga District Court had been adjourned from February 26 to allow Hunt's lawyer time to consider 13,000 pages of evidence from police.
The lawyer, Nicholas Dutch, conceded there was a prima facie case to answer but said all of the evidence against Hunt could be dealt with by a depositions hearing in Tauranga.
The Auckland hearing is not until September and is expected to take between six weeks and two months.
Mr Dutch said there were 13 witnesses in the case against Hunt - all of whom were police - and their evidence could be given in written form.
"[There is] obvious prejudice to Mr Hunt if he has to sit there [in Auckland] for two months as well."
Judge Thomas Ingram agreed, saying: "In my view, it would be contrary to the interests of justice to remove him to Auckland for a lengthy hearing when the matter can be dealt with expeditiously with a short hearing in Tauranga."
Crown prosecutor Rob Ronayne said he still opposed Hunt's case staying in Tauranga but made no further submissions on the issue.
He told the Herald it was possible the Crown would make a fresh application to transfer the case after depositions.
Hunt's depositions hearing was set for May 29 in the Tauranga District Court and he was remanded on continued bail.
It is understood he was captured on police video surveillance at one of the so-called terrorism training camps in the Ureweras, and outside court, he told the Herald he did not deny he was at a camp in the ranges for a day.
He said he did not know any of the others at the camp other than Tuhoe activist Tame Iti, who was among those arrested in October during police raids at Ruatoki, Whakatane, Palmerston North, Auckland and Wellington.
They face charges under the Firearms Act after Solicitor-General David Collins, QC, ruled in November that the Terrorism Suppression Act did not apply to their case.
Hunt would not comment further on the allegations against him while the matter was before the courts, but said he had been living overseas for three years before his arrest.
Court documents list his occupation as security guard.
He was arrested the same day as two other men, who earlier consented to their cases being transferred to Auckland.