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Urgent Debate on Ahmed Zaoui Requested

Urgent Debate on Ahmed Zaoui Requested

ACT Deputy Leader Ken Shirley has requested an urgent Parliamentary debate this afternoon concerning the apprehension and detention of the international terrorism suspect Ahmed Zaoui at Paremoremo maximum security prison.

"Ahmed Zaoui is allegedly linked to the militant armed Islamic group GIA which has been blamed for terrorist acts including the 1997 Paris Metro bombing that killed eight people.

"Immigration Minister Lianne Dalziel contends this apprehension and detention show our border protection has proved itself. She claims our security system is working well. But nothing could be further from the truth.

"Most other countries have adopted passenger processing procedures which provide access to passport details before people board the plane. The government has dragged its feet on this issue. While such a system is part of a $30 million package committed to counter terrorism, it will not be introduced until next year.

"Given the events of September 11, 2001, the Government should have acted much more quickly with this measure. How many other characters similar to Ahmed Zaoui have managed to slip through our immigration screening.

"A more worrying concern is the fact that it may be now impossible to deport Ahmed Zaoui as no other country is likely to accept him.

"Will New Zealand detain him indefinitely, or will we grant him refugee status? Unless deported to Malaysia - his last port of embarkation - Zaoui will appear in Court next month after a 28 day detention warrant expires.

"It is contended that Zaoui has sought refuge in New Zealand because of a death squad that has pursued him from Switzerland, through Europe to Burkina Faso, his former place of residence. The Prime Minister's declaration that we are in a `benign security environment' is yet again proved wrong. We are now involved in the murky depths of global terrorism, simply because of this Government's ineffective border security" Mr Shirley said.

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