Sunday, April 17, 2011

What price justice?

The SST today has its front page taken (almost entirely) with the following story...
Grieving parents who lost children to repeat offenders are being stonewalled by "heartless" government departments they won the right to sue.

Lawyers, taking on Police and Corrections, say the families they represent believe they are being bullied in a "David versus Goliath" battle.

The parents of Debbie Ashton and Karl Kuchenbecker have taken action under occupational health and safety legislation, citing the failings of Police and Corrections that led to their loved ones' deaths.

Young dad Kuchenbecker, 26, was gunned down by murderer Graeme Burton in January 2007. A month earlier Ashton, 20, was killed by disqualified driver Jonathan Allan Barclay, who was in the police witness protection scheme at the time.

Both instances, Ashton and Kuchenbecker, were killed by men with prior convictions. Ashton's killer was a repeat drunk driver who had been released on parole and warned that further offences "could result in his being recalled to serve the remainder of those sentences". Kuchenbecker's killer had been paroled after serving 14 years of a murder sentence; he had two further warrants for arrest on other charges when he was paroled, neither warrant was actioned.

The civil action being taken against Police and Corrections Service is (as far as I can gather) based on the application of Health and Safety law. This could result in the Government (through Police and Corrections) paying some pretty hefty fines and copping a criminal conviction if found guilty of negligence and endangering (in this case) the public as a result.

What becomes apparent - as the article points out very clearly - is the justice in this case is clearly on the side of the money, rather than the right.

Given that as a start point, what chance does anyone imagine the Urewera 18 might have in obtaining redress for the tactics used by the Police, the manipulation of the law and in particular the Anti-Terrorism statutes, the Government's use of suppression orders to conceal (from the defendants) evidence and to abuse normal judicial process.

Bear in mind that it is now coming up four years since the raid on Ruatoki. The terrorism charges have long since been dropped on the pretext that the law is "unworkable". The remaining charges are comparatively minor firearms charges, usually dealt with in lower Courts by (in the past) a Stipendiary Magistrate at the highest.

Is there anyone who still believes in NZ justice being free of corruption, political influence, and available to all?