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NZ police pursue cuffed and naked fugitive

'Very evasive' perp leads cops a 40km merry dance

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New Zealand police were last Friday led a merry dance by a prisoner who gave them the slip while en route to court in Whakatane, on the country's north island.

According to the New Zealand Herald, cops twice cornered 34-year-old Werimu Rangi Hauraki following his escape, but on both occasions the dreadlocked, six-foot fugitive managed to break free.

Inspector Tony Jeurissen explained on Friday: "At one stage he was apprehended and handcuffed by police, and whilst being escorted he managed to dive from a balcony over a steep cliff head first.

"He is currently naked, except for some weed matting he is wearing and handcuffed. Unfortunately he is being very evasive in very difficult terrain. This man is determined and does not want to be apprehended."

A major dragnet involving choppers and dogs eventually cornered the perp on Saturday morning. He was found "in a river near Opotiki", having fled "more than 40km on foot while handcuffed".

Hauraki is reportedly unhurt and will today finally appear in Whakatane District Court on charges of aggravated burglary and burglary. "Further charges are likely," the NZ Herald notes. ®

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