Waihopai three back in Court

The New Zealand Government will next week begin arguing its case to extract $1.2 million in damages from the three men who sabotaged the radar dome at Marlborough’s Waihopai Valley spybase.

A preliminary hearing in the High Court at Wellington on Monday will hear the merits on whether the civil case the Government has taken should proceed.

In 2008 teacher Adrian Leason, Dominican friar Peter Murnane and farmer Sam Land cut through alarmed electric fences at the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) base near Blenheim and deflated the fibre enclosure.

The trio used the “claim of right” defence – subsequently amended by the Government – and said they were saving lives in Iraq by disrupting satellite transmissions and were acting for the greater good. A jury found them not guilty of burglary and wilful damage.

The Crown is seeking $1.2m in damages, about $1.14m of which is the cost of the repairs. It is also seeking about $400 for providing food and drink for the workers who carried out the repairs.

Fr Murnane said the fact the three had no money raised a big question over the whole procedure, but the Crown was pursuing them regardless.


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