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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 November 2007, 12:14 GMT
NZ activists avoid terror charges
Tame Iti, one of the men seized in the terror raids
The 12 men could still face charges over alleged weapons possession
New Zealand's solicitor-general has ruled that 12 environmental activists arrested last month cannot be charged under anti-terrorism laws.

David Collins said the 2002 legislation was "unnecessarily complex, incoherent" and almost impossible to apply.

The men, mainly Maori, were arrested in raids on both North and South Island on suspicion of planning a violent campaign against the white majority.

The men still face possible charges of illegal use and possession of weapons.

Hundreds of people mounted protests against the arrests across New Zealand, claiming those taken into custody were political prisoners.

'Impossible to apply'

On Thursday, New Zealand's top legal official announced the arrested activists would not face terror-related charges under the Terrorism Suppression Act, the first time the 2002 law would have been applied.

I have concluded the legislation is unnecessarily complex, incoherent, and, as a result, almost impossible to apply to the domestic circumstances observed by the police in this case
David Collins
New Zealand Solicitor-General

Though the police had good reason to investigate the alleged weapons training activity, Mr Collins said the evidence did not meet the criteria outlined in the law.

"I have concluded the legislation is unnecessarily complex, incoherent, and, as a result, almost impossible to apply to the domestic circumstances observed by the police in this case," he said.

Mr Collins said he had advised the police that he would be "unable to authorise the prosecutions".

However, he said the police could continue to prosecute the 12 activists, along with five others also detained in the raids, for alleged illegal possession and use of firearms and other weapons.

Police said they had seized guns, ammunition and homemade napalm bombs at military-style training camps and intercepted text messages suggesting at least one of those arrested planned to mount a war on white people.

SEE ALSO
NZ protest against terror raids
19 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Alleged Maori plot against whites
17 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
NZ police hold 17 in terror raids
15 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Country profile: New Zealand
05 Jun 07 |  Country profiles
New Zealand faces its dark secret
29 Jan 07 |  Asia-Pacific
New Zealand Maori choose new king
21 Aug 06 |  Asia-Pacific
NZ to probe Maori spy stories
24 Nov 04 |  Asia-Pacific
New Zealand embroiled in race row
27 Oct 04 |  Crossing Continents

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