INDEPENDENT NEWS

Police Fail To Account For All 17 "Terror" Accused

Published: Thu 18 Oct 2007 01:17 PM
Police Struggle To Account For All 17 "Terror" Accused
By Alastair Thompson
Also distributed on The Sludge Report news-by-email list
Update: Scoop has now been informed that the Palmerston North arestee was in fact granted bail yesterday. The number of incarcerated terrorists therefore stands at 16.
Scoop has to make a correction. The number of incarcerated alleged terrorists is now back up to 17 - and was in fact 17 last night when Scoop reported it was 16.
However in Scoop's defence this writer was misdirected on this point by Police Public Relations who told me that one of the 17 had been bailed on Monday. It appears this person was in fact rearrested yesterday.
Meanwhile this morning Police Public Relations remain unable to account for all 17 Terrorist Suppression Act operation arrestees and their status - a question they were asked to answer yesterday afternoon.
On Wednesday morning the Dominion Post's front page lead reported:
"Nine of the people arrested and charged after Monday's raid remain in custody following court appearances yesterday."
This information was clearly incorrect. There were in fact 16 terror accused in jail on Tuesday night.
The discrepancy sparked an effort by Scoop.co.nz to "count the terror accused" (See… "Terrorist" Urgency Over But More Arrests Possible and establish when and where they will next appear in court.
Scoop Begins Effort To Count The Accused
The counting began, initially coming up four accused terrorists short of the quota: i.e. 4 Wellington + 6 Auckland + 1 Palmerston, + 2 Rotorua = 13 not 17.
You might think this would be a relatively simple task to find out what had happened to the other four people arrested in the on Monday. Apparently not.
Scoop's inquiries were initially directed to the Police PR officer who had been assigned to "Operation 8" on Monday.
However unbeknownst to Police HQ this officer had in fact - as of 4.30pm yesterday - already been reassigned back to his usual duties. He said he was unable to answer any questions in relation to the operation and hung up when asked why he had been reassigned.
Scoop returned to the police National Office and after making some further inquiries Police PR informed us that one person had been bailed on Monday in Rotorua (it appears that they did not know at that time that he/she had been rearrested - see below).
Police PR also found that one other alleged terrorist had been remanded in custody on Monday in Hamilton to appear in Auckland tomorrow morning.
This left two of those arrested on Monday still unaccounted for.
According to Police PR both were arrested in the Bay Of Plenty on Monday, and would have appeared in Rotorua District Court that day.
The duty public relations officer then said she would try to find out what had happened to the other two arrestees.
However as of midday today she remained unable to answer this question. Scoop will continue to ask until we get an answer.
Yesterday's Arrest - Turns Out To Be Another Re-arrest
This morning - after hearing the news on the Radio New Zealand this morning - Scoop rang Police National HQ PR again and asked why a press release was not issued yesterday about the arrest of an additional alleged "terrorist" in the Bay of Plenty - due to appear in court today.
The Police National HQ PR office said this was because it was not a new arrest but instead was the re-arrest of one of those arrested on Monday.
Clearly they had not actually been informed of this when we spoke to them as of 5pm yesterday. Or he was re-arrested later?
Police spokeswoman Jane Archibald said the person re-arrested yesterday had been re-arrested on new charges, though she did not know how many. This differs from the case of Jamie Lockett in Auckland who was bailed and then rearrested after the High Court revoked his bail.
Police also laid three additional charges against Tame Iti yesterday when he appeared for a bail hearing. Tame Iti's defence team have said they want to appeal the decision to deny him bail however they are struggling in the absence of a written decision to explain the Rotorua District Court judges decision.
Ms Archibald did not express a view on whether the person re-arrested yesterday was the same person described by Derek Fox on National Radio as having been arrested by accident in the operation on Monday and bailed because he was not involved.
*********
… MEANWHILE IN TAUPO AND TAURANGA
.. More Terror Search Warrant Raids - This Time A Pensioner, An Organic Farmer & A Banking Reformer…
While there have been no more "Operation 8" arrests since Monday - there have been numerous additional search warrants served.
And it appears that keeping track of these is an equally difficult task for the increasingly beleaguered team at National HQ PR as it is keeping track of the accused.
A police spokesman told the NZ Herald yesterday several properties had been searched "two in Palmerston North, one in Lower Hutt, one in Wellington, and one at Lake Waikaremoana".
These were clearly in addition the search raid that was reported in media today which took place in Taupo.
This search operation featuring 15 police and computer and phone confiscation targeted an organic farmer whose son-in-law hails from Ruatoki.
Several hours of searching ended in the seizing of several phones and computers - including one belonging to a notable visiting overseas banking reform advocate. One of the phones seems to have now been returned.
Scoop spoke to one of the people raided in Taupo yesterday this morning. (See… Scoop Talks To Raided Organic Vegetable Grower) Another resident of the house was also interviewed by Radio New Zealand this morning.
This morning The NZ Herald reported on the Tauranga Pensioner whose house was raided on Tuesday. This case led to questions from the Green Party which seem likely to receive an airing in Parliament this afternoon.
ENDS
Alastair Thompson
Scoop Publisher
Alastair Thompson is the co-founder of Scoop. He is of Scottish and Irish extraction and from Wellington, New Zealand. Alastair has 24 years experience in the media, at the Dominion, National Business Review, North & South magazine, Straight Furrow newspaper and online since 1997. He is the winner of several journalism awards for business and investigative work.
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