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Sunday 11 October 2009

Government: 'Provocation defence must go'

Posted in: New Zealand Daily News
By Daily News Staff - 23rd July 2009

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The partial provocation defence, which has lead several killers of gay men in New Zealand to be given a lighter sentence of manslaughter instead of murder, will be removed from the statute books, Justice Minister Simon Power is expected to announce today.

Prime Minister John Key told media this morning he believes Power will be able to drum up enough support in Cabinet to abolish the defence.

The trial of Clayton Weatherston, who argued that he'd been 'provoked' into stabbing his girlfriend Sophie Elliot 216 times, and Hungarian tourist Ferdinand Ambach's successful defence - that elderly gay man Ron Brown had provoked him, leading to Ambach beating him several times with a banjo and then wrecking his house - lead to the families of both victims to express their disgust at the 'archaic' and 'completely unnecessary' defence.

High-powered gay lawyer and now Labour list MP Charles Chauvel told last week that the provocation defence is a travesty and must be done away with. He and Opposition Spokesperson on Justice Lianne Dalziel were drafting a Private Member's Bill which would delete the defence, which dates back to the Crimes Acts, passed in 1961.

The Law Commission recommended the partial defence of provocation be removed from the Crimes Act in 2001 and again in 2007.

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