Friday, June 27, 2014

New Zealand SAS soldier's conviction mostly overturned by Court Martial Appeal Court

A New Zealand SAS soldier known only as Trooper S has persuaded the Court Martial Appeal Court to reverse most of the charges of which he was convicted at a court-martial, including stealing Army property and unlawful possession of Army property. Details appear in this report by Radio New Zealand News and this press statement by the Labour Party's Defence spokesman, Phil Goff. The Radio New Zealand article includes this link to an interview with Trooper S's defense counsel, Melinda Mason.

Trooper S's name has been suppressed by court order. This seems to be becoming a matter of routine in some countries based on claims of concern for the personal safety of the accused. Is it being overdone? Is every soldier who deploys entitled to name suppression if later charged?


  1. Well, the judgment is not publicly available yet. It will be in due course, so then it will be possible to assess the reasons given by the Court Martial Appeal Court for name suppression. However, I'd have to say from the outset that members of the New Zealand Special Air Service are and always have been in a special category, due to the nature of their role, which includes counter-terrorism. Their identities are rigorously protected by the NZDF in all legal proceedings for reasons of national security. In my view, that's as it should be. I would not extrapolate from that to any other case involving a member of the conventional forces.

    Another aspect that is worth pointing out in this forum is that New Zealand no longer has "courts-martial", and has not since 2009. The Court which convicted Trooper S was a standing Court of record, the Court Martial of New Zealand, presided over by a civilian judge with a military panel as triers of fact.

  2. Thanks for this information, Chris. On name suppression, I note that it was granted for a little while in the current case of a Malaysian warrant officer whose extradition is being sought by New Zealand for attempted burglary and sexual assault. The suppression order was soon vacated. Here's a link:


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