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Op. 8 Trial; Day 13: ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’

Article – Annemarie Thorby

Day 13 of the Operation 8 trial featured more evidence from the prosecution on the evidence gathered in raids including a pamphlet – ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’Operation 8 Trial; Day 13: ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’
Thursday, 1st March

by Annemarie Thorby

Day 13 of the Operation 8 trial featured more evidence from the prosecution on the evidence gathered in raids including a pamphlet – ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’
Thursday morning began with the cross-examination of Daniel Roser. He was the officer charged with searching a house in Ruatoki associated with Tame Iti.

A Clearly Unsecured Building

Iti’s lawyer Russell Fairbrother asked Roser to look at a photograph of the house and agreed was what the house looked like when he first arrived there.

He said he was not the first person there and he arrived at 1pm with about five or six officers after the premises had been secured by the Armed Offenders Squad (AOS).

Once at the property he was directed by a member of the AOS to go through a hole in the flaxes and search the building there.

As he searched the house he pointed out items of interest for the police photographer to take pictures.

He was not certain when the police photographer had arrived at the house, nor did he know how many people lived in a neighbouring building that was within walkable distance.

The house associated with Tame Iti was, he said ‘a clearly unsecured building’.

There was a ‘canvas coloured flap that enters into the kitchen area, and it does not extend right to the floor’.

He said there was nobody in the building when he arrived. He also confirmed that nobody took fingerprints.

Fairbrother asked him about the weather on the day of the search.

He said it was a fine day, he did not recall it raining earlier in the day but it rained later.

He was also asked about the size of the digital camouflage pants. Roser agreed that he did not know ‘whether they fitted a big man, a little man, a big woman or a little woman’.

The blister pack of asprin was dated 10th July 2007. He did not know when the package was put on the desk. He did not know the dates of the other documents found, but agreed that a travel itinerary found was not for Iti but for someone else and it dated from May 2007, five months before the search. He did not recall what other names were found on the documents.

He agreed with Fairbrother that ‘from the documentation you can’t tell who has used the building’.

He did not recall the size of the gumboots and nor had he examined them for signs of recent wear.

Fairbrother then asked him about the white car he had searched at the property.

He had not checked to whom the car was registered to, and he agreed under cross-examination that there was no suggestion that it was Tame Iti’s vehicle. He did not recall what time he lifted the boot of the vehicle.

Fairbrother then asked him to look again at the picture of the house. The car with its boot open could be seen in the background. The officer agreed that the boot was open when he got there.

He did not know who had put items in the boot nor when they were put there. He first noticed the items sometime after 1pm.

He agreed that he did not know if the car had been there for three weeks or three hours.

Fairbrother said, ‘and Tame Iti had not been there as he was arrested at 6am somewhere else?’ The officer said he was ‘not sure if he had been there before’.

Fairbrother then asked about the backpack photographed in the car. The officer could not recall if the pack was dry and he was also unsure if the zip on the pack was already open when he saw it.

Fairbrother asked if he could see in the photo what appeared to be a black water resistant object, Roser could and said that it appeared to ‘shiny and possibly wet’.

The next questions were about the sleeping bag on the tarpaulin. Roser could not recall any footprints or signs of recent activity.

He said that his instructions had been ‘to search the premises and make notes of things of interest’.

There was questioning about the items on the tarpaulin when asked again about fingerprinting, the officer said it was ‘not his role determine what item to be fingerprinted or not’.

Fairbrother then returned to the house and asked about the pistol found under the bunk there. The officer agreed that it had a red object in the barrel, inserted by the manufacturer but he did not know if it was a blank firing weapon.

Nick Taylor asked the officer technical questions regarding cartridges and barrels. The officer answered with detailed explanations.

Taylor also questioned the officer about the pistol found and asked with ‘regards to the blank fire 8mm pistol. It’s a replica of a Gluck pistol, do you agree?’

The officer said, ‘When I first located it, I think I noted it as semi-automatic mini-gap.’

Taylor then asked if Roser was now aware that it was a replica made in Italy.

‘My impression is that it is a blank-firing pistol,’ replied the officer.

At this stage the Judge interrupted to ascertain what a pistol that fires blank is. He asked if it can be used as a starting gun. The police officer confirmed that and also that it only makes a loud noise and nothing else.

Taylor then asked the officer if a starting pistol is a glorified cap-gun.

The officer replied that it is ‘not a toy’.
Thermite Instructions

David Neale, a fire and explosions investigator from ESR, was the next to take the stand.

He was shown the photograph of the sheet of paper that allegedly contains instructions for a thermite explosion. It was found in the premises of someone arrested on October 15, 2007. That person has subsequently had all charges dismissed against him.

Neale said that he had been sent the document on 18th October 2007 and was asked by the police ‘for any comment regarding this document and its viability’.

He said that the sheet of paper contained a link to an online chemical element table and ‘information, some questions and instructions regarding the chemicals he would consider to be a thermite reaction’.

He said that a thermite reaction is not a large loud type explosion, but created a lot of light and heat.

When asked how it could be ignited, he said, ‘it can come from heating the mixture with a propane torch or lighting a magnesium fuse or a sparkler.’

He said that in his ‘opinion these notes could be used to generate a viable thermite reaction.’ However, there were no instructions on the paper about how to ignite the reaction.

He said ‘the thermite itself generates very hot metal as well as a lot of steam and smoke and if you contain that reaction it can cause what I would term could be an explosion. Not like a stick of dynamite. But with a lot of noise. ‘

The Judge asked Neale if thermite reactions have any practical or industrial application. Neale replied it was ‘very good for wielding and also has military applications’ and ‘it was used as incendiary devices to start fires and there are thermite grenades used to disable material such as artillery or vehicles or anything that has large amount of metal making it work.’

The Police Armourer

Robert Ngamoki, the police armourer was next on the stand.

He examined, in the stand, firearms found in Te Rangikaiwhiria Kemara’s house. (The court heard earlier that Kemara has a NZ firearms’ license).

The prosecutor explained that ‘all the firearms were made safe, that there was no ammunition lying around but they still would not be pointed at anyone’.

The pistol found by Kemara’s bed was described by Ngamoki as being a blank firing pistol and that no license is needed for it.

He then went through all the other weapons, stating their make and serial number and describing their purpose. To possess all the guns and ammunition an A-Category firearms’ license was needed.

He also discussed the firearms found at the houses associated with Tame Iti and the Marlin rifle found in TeAro valley in Wellington.

The sawn-off shot gun found at another person’s house, someone no longer facing charges as a result of Operation 8 was a double-barrel sawn-off shotgun.

He said that they are in common use but not for legal purposes.

Ngamoki was then taken through photographs in the various exhibits books and asked to match the firearms found with the firearms photographed at the various camps.

Under cross-examination he agreed with Fairbrother that guns are mass-produed items and that therefore there are lookalike weapons in their thousands.

He also agreed that some hunters use sawn-off shotguns to go through the bush to hunt pigs ‘as long as the barrel doesn’t go beyond a certain size’.

He also agreed that there are a lot of replica guns readily available in shops. But he did say that ‘you are probably looking at sports shops rather than the $2 shop’.

He also said that silencers are often bought with guns and when asked if ‘rabbit hunters use silencers to not scare off other bunnies’ he said ‘yes, and deer hunters are beginning to do this now too.’

He agreed that having a gun with a silencer is not uncommon.

He was asked about comparing the weapons shown to him in court with the weapons in New Zealand. He agreed that there were tens of thousands of some of the brands in New Zealand.

He agreed that the .22 calibre is a low velocity weapon but said that it was ‘probably the most common calibre that kills people in NZ, either through suicide or deliberately, so it is not that innocuous’.

He said it is the gun ‘commonly used for dispatching small animals’ in New Zealand and he agreed that for a young person starting out, they usually began with a .22.

When asked if he thought rifles were more commonly found in rural areas rather than a city, he said it would be ‘a better question for the licensing people’.

When Fairbrother then said, ‘those who have outdoor lifestyles have more guns than city people’

Ngamoki agreed, but he said ‘people on life-style blocks might disagree’.

He was then asked about the 1970s when many schools had brigades for students. He agreed these students used to practise with live guns and that many of these students would now be lawyers and doctors.

Nick Taylor asked about the procedure of applying for a firearms license, how to buy a gun and ammunition and what each license allows a person to have in terms of weapon and ammunition. He also enquired about the difference between an E-Category and A-Category license. Before 1992 military style guns could be possessed with only an A license, now a person must have an E-Category license.

Ngamoki was also asked about the paintball gun and then asked about the market in NZ for soft-air guns.

He agreed it was a very large market and described them as ‘a facsimile of a real gun, it uses air to fire a 6mm diameter plastic bullet. If hit, you’d end up annoyed, and at close range on the bare skin they leave a little red mark.’

He agreed that no license is required for these guns if a person is over 18 year of age.

He agreed that ‘these soft-air guns are very common and replicate everything’. He also pointed out that at ‘times members of the public have called the police and the Armed Offenders Squad has been called out’ to groups of people playing with these weapons.

He agreed that they are ‘like glorified toys’ and ‘from any substantial distance it is hard to tell between a real gun and these’.

He said there over a million firearms in New Zealand and that there are about 230,000 licenses.

Children in Garage

Kate Perry was the next officer on the stand. She told how she was an officer associated with searching a house in Ruatoki and had found the ‘Scenario Document’ in a car on the property.

She was cross-examined by Christopher Stevenson.

She said she arrived at the house with about 3 or 4 others and they came in two cars with all of them searching the property.

She ‘could not say what they (the other officers’ were doing as she was focussing on what she was doing’.

She explained how the Special Tactics Groups were dressed in black and had guns but no helmets, and they were leaving as she arrived.

She relieved one and said she only saw one.

She located the scenario document at 8.40am in the glove box of the car. It was found along with bank statements and repair invoices.

Stevenson asked if she had started searching immediately when she arrived at the premises.

The officer explained first she had spoken with a female there. When Perry had arrived the female had been in the garage with her three children, they were being watched over by a STG member. ‘He was outside, just making sure that they stayed inside the garage.’

She said that the garage had a roller door and it was open. She searched the mother and the 15 year old girl. An hour later she handed her watch over to another officer.

She reiterated that it was ‘a comfortable garage. It had a sofa, bikes’.

She then searched the car before going back to watch over the garage. She stayed there until midday, making sure that the children and mother stayed in the garage.

She said that the family ‘could go to the toilet with an officer’ and she disagreed with the assertion that the mother was upset.

She explained that it was better for the children to stay in the garage while the house was being searched. She said, ‘kids don’t need to see that’.

She said the five hours the mother and three children were detained, was ‘not a lengthy time’ and it was a ‘relaxed type atmosphere’.

‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’

Police officer Hamish MacDonald was then recalled to the stand.

He explained how he had been responsible for identifying Kemara as an attendee at various camps.

He said he had examined exhibits found at termination, such as clothing, and then used these to help identify participants at the camps.

When ‘uplifting something from Kemara’s car’ he found a pamphlet called ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’.

An editorial page in the booklet assigned an article to Emily Bailey and she was listed as a researcher for a film in the booklet, there was an internet link to the site and he had found her name there also.

In the pamphlet, Bailey had written the ninth article, it was entitled ‘Strategising for a Revolution’.

He said ‘she wants a revolution of everything, blowing up parliament, communication towers, there is a three-tonged plan to the revolution and she will not be alive in 25 years.’

The prosecutor then returned to asking the officer to look at photographs in the evidence booklets and explain how he identified the people. The officer also explained how he used cell-phone texts and contact lists.

He also confirmed that a booklet about the Zapitisita movement had been found in Kemara’s office and a CD containing various movies and documentaries, one contained military training films.

The prosecutor then asked him to look through Tuhoe Lambert’s book. Again the clothing, equipment and cell-phones taken were used to identify presence at camps.

The officer also read through texts allegedly sent from Lambert talking about attendance at camps. The word ‘nigga’ was used a lot in the texts.

Under cross-examination MacDonald told Fairbrother that he had not seen any texts in Lambert’s cellphone from Tame Iti confirming or acknowledging receipt of any of the texts alleged to have been sent to Tame Iti.

He said that he ‘took the term nigga at face value.’ He did not know that Lambert worked in mental health and with Black Power members. He did not know that ‘nigga’ is gang language.

He was then cross-examined by Jeremy Bioletti who asked him about the pamphlet ‘Today’s Empire is Tomorrow’s Dust’.

Bioletti read two lines from the editorial page of the pamphlet.

‘So I hope you find this little zine interesting’ and asked if the officer knew the term zine. He did not.

Bioletti explained that the term zine is the modern word for a magazine. He then finished reading the sentence, ‘I hope you find this little zine interesting …at least a way for you to procrastinate too’ and then asked the officer what the word procrastinate meant.

The officer said he thought ‘procrastinate’ meant ‘to work things through.’ Bioletti explained that it meant ‘to do nothing’.

Val Nisbet also asked about the Zine.

He referred the officer to some text near a cartoon, part of the text that MacDonald had read earlier.

He asked the officer to read that aloud. It was a statement including the following phrases, ‘I want revolution of behaviour, global capitalist structures. A world without oppression, a world of liberty for all.’

Nisbet then asked McDonald how long he had been involved with the Special Investigators Group, he answered eight and a half years. He explained that he had been involved with this inquiry since Sept 2006 and agreed that he had spent a lot of that time carrying out surveillance of people.

He would make enquiries about people who both he and his superiors thought could be involved in activities that the SIG were interested in.

He did not attend the Parihaka peace festival in January 2007 and did not recall if any of the accused were at the festival.

Nisbet then said that ‘it was in early January that you made enquiries about Emily Bailey and her involvement in film-making.’

The officer explained that he had it in his notebook as being in July 2008. Nisbet then showed the officer his disclosure which stated it was January 2007.

Nisbet said, ‘so maybe you made the enquiry twice, is that possible?’ The officer answered, ‘I like to be thorough, yes.’

Nisbet asked him about the film. The officer said it was about ‘documenting solutions for a sustainable world.’ He as not sure if ‘it involved travelling overseas and interviewing people.’

Nisbet then asked the officer if he had read Bailey’s biography on the film website, the officer was not sure.

Nisbet then read it aloud. It was very extensive and talked about Bailey’s academic qualifications, her interests and her passions and ended with her work experience.

At the time she was contracted to the Department of Conservation.

Nisbet pointed out that other biographies were available on the website and that some of these people were also ‘others of interest’ during Operation 8.

The officer was then asked if, ‘as part of his concern about these people of interest, did he keep in touch with the newspapers? If someone was recorded in a newspaper, would that be of interest?’

Nisbet asked him if he had seen an article in the Dominion Post in September 2008 that featured Bailey. The officer said he had not as he lives in Auckland, and does not read the Wellington papers.

Nisbet said it was an article about seed-bombing the city and that it even had a photo of Bailey. In the photo she was wearing the patch that the police keep referring to.

Day Off

At that stage the cross-examination was stopped as it was already past 5pm

The judge announced that the case is proceeding quicker than first anticipated and that the prosecution expect to finish their case early next week, possibly on Monday.

He said the case is certainly not looking at anything like taking the three months that was announced initially.

He concluded by saying that there would be no court on Friday, 2nd March, and that the following Friday there would also be no sitting.

Court was adjourned until Monday 5th March.

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