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Trial by Media - Prosecution by Exaggeration

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'Exaggeration as a Prosecution Strategy' is how one blog has described the High Court case against the last remaining four defendants from Operation 8. And a 'perfect summary' of what is happening, is what Ana Cocker, spokesperson for October 15th Solidarity Group, said after reading it.

“Day in and day out, the defendants, the jury and the supporters sit and watch jerky video footage set in the bush and paddocks around Ruatoki,” Ms Cocker said.

“ Yes, there are video clips of people walking with guns, but there are also clips of people eating lunch, talking and laughing.”

“There are audio clips of gun shots, but none of the bush noises in between.”

“There is evidence of spent cartridges near a stump, of a lost balaclava found on a well-worn track. There are SMS texts and Chatroom quotes presented,” said Ms Cocker. “And at the end of each day, the daily media present the most titillating evidence or they speak about the upcoming evidence that the crown has said they will introduce. They do not report much else.”

“The media present only carefully selected 'evidence' without context.”

“It is like the 'terror files' published in the Dominion Post and the Christchurch Press in 2007,” said Ms Cocker.

One month after the police raids of October 15th 2007, both these papers published selected parts of evidence in a manner that the Solicitor General described as, 'the most serious challenge to the public policy underpinning the law of contempt that New Zealand has ever seen.' He said that the articles were 'deliberately inflammatory, unsettling, provocative, and memorable, and that Fairfax published them as widely as possible.'

“The media is doing the same thing now,” said Ms Cocker. “An 18 minute clip of people in the bush is reduced on TV to a few seconds reality bite of people with guns.”

“They are deliberately presenting only the unsettling, provocative and memorable evidence and the public receive a deliberately distorted image of what was happening in the bushes near Ruatoki.”

“As pointed out in Paul Buchanan's blog, the prosecution is using highly emotive language when presenting its 'evidence'. Exaggeration appears to be a deliberate prosecution strategy and the mainstream media is lapping it up,” Ms Cocker said.

“The trial by media needs to stop now. The farce needs to end now.”