Thursday, February 19, 2009

Not guilty but not innocent? Some strange New Zealand justice

The Government has rejected Rex Haig's plea for compensation for wrongful conviction and imprisonment after a Queen's Counsel's report cast doubt on his innocence. Justice Minister Simon Power declined the application on the advice of Robert Fisher, QC.

Mr Haig served 10 years in prison after being convicted in 1995 for murdering Mark Roderique on his fishing boat off the West Coast. He had claimed his nephew David Hogan, 31, who was one of the three crew members, was the actual murderer. His conviction was last year quashed by the Court of Appeal, after his lawyer presented affidavits from 14 witnesses saying Mr Hogan confessed or implicated himself in Mr Roderique's murder.

Mr Haig had failed to show he was innocent of the crime with which he was charged, Mr Fisher said. "If anything the inquiry suggests the reverse," Mr Fisher wrote. Mr Haig cannot be prosecuted again and Mr Fisher's findings only related to the compensation decision.

Mr Haig said he had been denied compensation for his wrongful conviction and imprisonment for murder. As part of his appeal, he also said Mr Hogan contracted another man to murder his key defence witness, Anton Sherlock, in March 1995. Mr Haig said the 189-page report "raises more questions than it has answers".

Mr Haig said his lawyer, Jonathan Eaton, had told him the lack of witnesses in the case made it difficult for a judgement on compensation to be made. "But I consider the matter's unfinished because David Hogan should be arrested for this murder, because Robert Fisher has said that he has done the murder and there's a prima facie case against him for the murder of my witness, Anton Sherlock."

Mr Haig said he was not surprised by the decision. "The way the justice system works, they just want it to go away."

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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