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Zaoui Case Now Causing Diplomatic Incidents

Media Release

06 April 2004

Zaoui Case Now Causing Diplomatic Incidents

New Zealand First leader Rt Hon Winston Peters has asked the Government to explain how it intended to respond to Belgium’s complaint about the way its justice system has been disparaged during the drawn out Ahmed Zaoui case.

Mr Peters was responding to the Foreign Affairs Minister’s confirmation that the Belgium Government took exception to the dismissive attitude of the findings of Belgium’s Court of Appeal in the Zaoui case by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority (RSAA).

“Of course Belgium would take umbrage at our lowly appeals authority questioning the legitimacy of its upper court system. The handling of the Zaoui case only adds insult to the already scandalous and increasingly expensive farce being allowed to gather momentum in New Zealand.

“The fact is that Zaoui was found guilty in both French and Belgium courts of terrorist and passport offences. The appeals authority tried to explain away these convictions by questioning the validity of these overseas jurisdictions and in its lack of wisdom has created an international incident.”

Mr Peters said that Article 1F (b) of the Refugee Convention stipulated quite clearly that where refugee claimants committed a serious crime outside the country of refuge (New Zealand), they were automatically disqualified from being granted refugee status.

“To try and undermine this by questioning the legitimacy of such well established overseas courts is reaching a new low and must be stopped before our international relationships are put at further risk.

“Zaoui and his ilk are not worth it,” said Mr Peters.

ENDS

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