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Government case against Zaoui collapses

9 December 2004

Government case against Zaoui collapses

Green MP Keith Locke is ecstatic about the Supreme Court decision to grant Ahmed Zaoui bail.

"After two years of unjustified imprisonment in New Zealand jails, Mr Zaoui can at last start to live something like a normal life," said Mr Locke, the Greens' Human Rights spokesperson.

"The public will now be able to get the measure of the man, and the fears that he is some kind of Islamic extremist will disappear into thin air. People will discover, as I have during my prison visits, that he is a warm, wise and gentle man, dedicated to peace and tolerance on this earth.

Mr Locke said the Supreme Court deserved praise for upholding the principle of habeas corpus and not tolerating unjust imprisonment.

"Mr Zaoui likewise deserves our thanks for his contribution to our democracy. His successful court cases have made it harder for our government to sidestep proper judicial process in the name of the war against terrorism.

"The Government's case for applying a Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui is collapsing fast. In the Supreme Court today, the Government was unable to present a single scrap of evidence against Mr Zaoui that has not already been thoroughly discredited by the Refugee Status Appeals Authority.

"It appears the Security Intelligence Service has been engaged in a con job, with no credible evidence up its sleeve.

"When I first visited Mr Zaoui in solitary confinement in Paremoremo in December 2002 he was treated as such a dangerous man he had to be kept away from all other prisoners, yet the Government could come up with no new or credible evidence when faced with a bail application today.

"There is no reason for this charade to go on any longer. The Immigration Minister has full authority under the Immigration Act to lift the Security Risk Certificate against Mr Zaoui at any time, and should do so now. The Certificate is simply departmental advice from the SIS, which the Immigration Minister has power to accept or reject at any time.

"No obfuscation about the Zaoui case being part of a 'process' can absolve the Minister of his responsibility to give Mr Zaoui the freedom to settle here as a refugee with his family."

ENDS

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