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Evidence worth Peanuts

in

The Prosecution hauled out their two star civilian witnesses today. "These were the two young brothers," said Ana Cocker from the 15th October Solidarity Group, "who five years ago as teenagers offered to help their Personal Trainer out and ended up attending one of the so-called camps."

"It's interesting that prosecution didn't call the Personal Trainer."

Today the brothers had to think back to when they were in their teens and recall what happened. They were asked about details of conversations and how they felt on that day in January 2007. At the time the younger had just turned 14, the older was 16. They were not interviewed by the police about the incident until early 2008.

"That's after Operation 8 became public," said Ms Cocker, "And the media was fill of talk about terrorism, guns and camps in te Urewera."

"So today in court the focus was on the boys being made to get out of the car, lie on the road and get frisked before attending the 'camp'."

"But under cross-examination," Ms Cocker said, "it appears that everyone in the car was made to get out, including Tame Iti. Everyone was superficially frisked and everyone was apologised to afterwards. The atmosphere was friendly and light-hearted. Neither boy suggested that they were scared or frightened by the experience, that it was more a bit unexpected.”

"Then the camp training session began. And it was a talk about physical fitness and health.”

"And as to the details of the events that day," said Ms Cocker. "They've vanished in time. The two brothers did have some intereseting discrepancies, but that's hardly surprising due to the passage of time.”

"But the one thing both brothers agreed on," said Ms Cocker, "was the discussion over meat-eating versus vegetarianism. One of the biggest memories of that day for the two brothers was the argument over nutrition," she said. "That is, what has more protein - meat or nuts?"

"It's telling that the only civilian witnesses that the police can call are two people who were young teenagers in 2007," said Ms Cocker. "And in the long run, their evidence is worth peanuts."

"From the start this case has been little more than a game of smoke and daggers by the prosecution."

"The prosecution is desperately trying to build a story of guerrila warfare out of a random collection of events. The crown is trying to save face to come out of this whole saga without too much egg on their face."

"They need to realise that it is not too late now, they can drop all the charges now.”

Comments

Wow - that's a politically

Wow - that's a politically bankrupt approach to take. You are trashing two young men who are describing being treated in a way that they didn't consent to.  

I also can't imagine it convinces anyone. After all those who protested the raids have (rightly) spent a lot of time discussing how wrong it is to search children without their consent while carrying guns.

There are lots of ways that you could respond to these witnesses which isn't victim blaming bullshit. After all they only identify Tame, who wasn't one of the people who searched the boys. It is not meaningful evidence of any of the crown charges.

That's not how all of us read

That's not how all of us read this Grace. I don't think there's victim-blaming going on in this article at all.

I wasn't suggesting that

I wasn't suggesting that everyone did agree with me. Unforunately I know better.

This article constantly belittles the memory and experiences of a 14 and a 16 year old who were searched by people with guns without their consent.

" "And as to the details of the events that day," said Ms Cocker. "They've vanished in time. The two brothers did have some intereseting discrepancies, but that's hardly surprising due to the passage of time.” - If people are describing experiences that they didn't consent to - saying this sort of thing is victim blaming not politically radical. 

I agree that their evidence isn't worth much for the crowns case.  But that's because it doesn't have anything to do with the charges, not because they are unreliable. 

The boys may not have said they were scared in court (I wasn't there), but they did in evidence they gave closer to the time.  There is no need to minimise their experience.  It doesn't make adults with guns searching children without their consent OK. 

And (most importantly) you don't have to believe that it is OK to be in solidarity with the defendants.

For someone who presumes to

For someone who presumes to have so much political nouce, posting shit like the comments above  Grace is  just undermines the defendants to the police & the mainstream media.

The October 15th Solidarity

The October 15th Solidarity group wishes to apologise to the two young men who gave evidence on behalf of the crown and police in the Urewera case. There was no intention to belittle their experience, nor blame them for what happened, nor condone holding children at gunpoint under any circumstances. Any impression that the press statement 'Evidence worth peanuts' gives to the contrary does not reflect the views of the October 15th Solidarity.

Why, because she has guts and

Why, because she has guts and isn't an irritating little sheep spouting the party line like you Ana?

And she is right, it is rampant disgusting hypocrisy.

 

For what it's worth, I

For what it's worth, I completely agree with Grace.  The tone of this article is mocking, and it is at best careless with how it treats the men giving evidence.  Their experiences sound traumatic, dismissing the gravity of that is victim-shaming.  Treat their experiences with respect.

Ana, you say Grace is undermining the defendants to the police and mainstream media.  Her second comment is a more relevant criticism of the evidence than your article--the police don't show that it is relevant to the defendants' charges.  I think your article does more to undermine the defendants than Grace's criticism of it.  I think it's a really crappy piece of PR that will not convince anyone who is feeling dodged out by hearing about those men's experience.  I would delete it.

I wasn't at court and I have

I wasn't at court and I have no idea what was said apart from what has been reported here and elsewhere. But why should we beleive these two guys or treat them with more respect just cos they claim to have been frightened. They are witnesses for the police and therefore could be anything from genuine honest kids to dodgy scumbags doing the polices work to get off a more serious charge. It has happened before. Just cos they claim to have been frightened does make them suddenly more reliable than any other witness or mena that they deserve special senstive treatment. The fact that they are the only civilian witnesses giving evidence against members of their own community in a hugely political trial, makes me think that if I was on the jury I would be very interested in why they chose to testify.

 

 

Good point Britney, you

Good point Britney, you clearly have some excellent analytical skills....

I guess that raises the question of whom we should believe, the defendants who have every reason to lie (and who wouldn't in their shoes), or a couple of kids with no connection at all to the case and who are probably scared witless by having to stand up in court.

Kia ora Britney,I don't think

Kia ora Britney,

I don't think we have to know these guys are telling them the truth to treat them with respect, and to treat them as if they may be telling the truth.  I don't need to belittle those guys or their experiences to explain that the prosecution hasn't made a case with them, and to remind people that we haven't seen the defence case yet. 

 

I can believe everything the men said (as reported), and still see no evidence of criminal intent.  What they describe sounds like people playing soldiery boot camp games in an isolated area (which is the safest place for them), and (appallingly) someone neglected to tell the boys until they were in it. 

 

I know Ana's article is PR to undermine the state PR, but I think it is a morally and strategically wrong approach.  If media reports have people wondering if the police fantasy may be true, a weak argument will only push them further.

I want to acknowledge the

I want to acknowledge the October 15th solidarity group's response.  I know how complex both conceiving and articulating solidarity politics around this is, and I really appreciate the reflection - that's awesome.

Thanks kim - I really appreciate your response to Britney as well.

What I would add is that the way these boys testimony gets treated doesn't get treated in a vacuum. They are describing being treated in a way that they didn't consent to - that exists in a criminal justice system which is really fucked up about consent.  When Russel Fairbrother says (as he did) that they went along willingly with people with guns - that has wider implications than this case. 

Finally - I think it's really politically foolish to deny this vigorously (even if the author genuinely knew that it was made up from beginning to end).  As the report says - their story does not associate any of the defendants with criminal activity.  To deny something vigrously is to suggest that it's truth has meaning.  And while obviously I think the truth of these boys story does have meaning - it's not a legal meaning.

Ana - if you think anything I say will change either the police's or the media's view of the case - then the gulf between our political understanding is so vast that there is very little chance for dialogue.

ott people. stop speculating

ott people. stop speculating without knowing the people or being in the court room to hear the whole case. Sheesh. and i don't think those two young men need people to speak for them, they spoke quite well for themselves.

you are all just feeding into this media trial.

A response from Ana Cocker

I am finally responding to some of the criticisms and issues raised by the report the October 15th Solidarity Group put on Indymedia last week. I am responding personally as I believe some of the criticisms appear to be directed at me personally.

I would like to begin by apologising again for the offence this report obviously caused to some people. And also to the brothers, if you interpret it as belittling of your experience, I am sorry. It was also not intended, as someone accused me of doing, to 'trash' you either.

In retrospect, the report is too mocking but it was meant to be mocking of the prosecution and not the brothers. That obviously backfired.

Further, I disagree with people when they say that the brothers' evidence was not meaningful and relevant to the charges the four are facing. Not only me, but a lot of people believe their evidence is extremely important to the participation charge. (For readers new to this trial, to prove participation the crown basically has to prove the existence of a criminal group and prove that people charged with that offence knew about the group and that they either, on purpose or accidentally, helped them).

Thirdly, I am not the Ana who posted on 23rd February.

Fourthly, I personally believe very strongly that the brothers, in forgetting some details and having discrepancies in retelling their stories when in the dock is normal behaviour for most of us. I do not see that as victim blaming and would like to discuss this further, but not now whilst the case is going-on. I hope there can be a meeting and we can talk about it after the trial is finished.

Once again, apologies for my late response, but I have had limited internet access since Thursday morning.

Ana Cocker

Sorry - my response wasn't

Sorry - my response wasn't meant to be personal.  It was meant to be about both the political and strategic objections I had to this press release and the strategy it exemplified.

I have really appreciated the people posting information and updates and have been following it very carefully.  So a big thanks to people doing that - even when I'm sceptical of the approach.

I understand your point about the significance of the boys' evidence in terms of the group charges.  However, I think people can remember things that happen to the (particularly without their consent) much clearer than they can the dynamics of people they don't know.  It would be very easy to cast doubt on the boys' ability to provide good evidence on the material relevant to the charges - but the searches are irrelevant to that. I don't understand what political, legal or strategic point can possibly made by emphasising the friendliness or the kids' lack of fear.  Even the friendliest, least scary, lowest-key search of children without their consent undertaken by people with guns is politically and ethically indefensible. And I don't htink it's politically, strategically or legally useful to try and defend the indefensible (or minimise the indefensible). 

Like you say, after the case is probably the best place to discuss it more.  But I wanted to acknowledge your point - and draw a distinction between "it was 5 years ago these boys can't provide useful information about the nature of hte relationships between people they saw and whether or not they were a group - let alone a group with a particular purpose (only one of whom can be identified as a defendent)."  and "it was 5 years ago and therefore nothing they say is valid." I think the political importance of defending people's ability to describe things that are done to them without their consent years later is worth defending.