Delays to the Urewera trial is denying defendants their access to justice, Labour leader Phil Goff says.
Last week it was reported that the trial of 15 people, arrested after police raids in 2007 at alleged training camps in the Urewera Ranges, appeared unlikely to go ahead as scheduled on May 30 and could be delayed until next year.
The Supreme Court granted leave to the accused to appeal earlier High Court and Court of Appeal rulings that their case be heard by a judge alone rather than a judge and jury, and over the admissibility of some evidence.
Last week the Supreme Court issued a minute which said it was not able to decide on the admissibility of evidence before the trial’s start date.
Prosecutor Ross Burns at the time said it was unlikely the trial, estimated to take three months, would be held before the end of the year.
Defence lawyer Kahungunu Barron-Afeaki and protester John Minto commented at the time that the impact on those arrested had already been enormous and further delay was unjustified.
The accused face firearms charges and five of them face charges of participating in an organised criminal group.
Mr Goff said the process was taking too long.
“I think this is taking far too long, justice delayed is justice denied,” he told reporters.
“Three years after the event we should have had resolution of this by now. I can’t interfere with the justice system, no politician can, but it seems to me the system should respond rapidly.
“People charged with serious offences do have the right to expect that those matters would be bought to court at the earliest opportunity.”
Attorney-General Chris Finlayson said he had no involvement in when and how the trial proceeded.
“There’s been absolutely no political pressure, but they are matters that are properly within the (responsibility) of the Solicitor-General by convention, and that’s as far as I’ll go.”