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Ahmed Zaoui Case Delayed Yet Again - Laywers

Ahmed Zaoui case delayed yet again: Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security abandons August hearing

Lawyers acting for Ahmed Zaoui today issued a public statement to clarify that the abandonment by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security of the hearing of the review of the security risk certificate issued against Mr Zaoui, which had been due to start on 7 August 2006, has not occurred by reason of any delays or default of Mr Zaoui or his counsel.

According to Mr Zaoui's lawyers: "The primary reason for the hearing being delayed is the incompetence of the Director of Security, in failing to provide information to the Inspector-General, promptly and completely. The Director issued the security risk certificate against Mr Zaoui well over three years ago, and as of today, he has still not provided all necessary documentation to the Inspector-General."

The Zaoui case has been delayed since December 2003, initially due to Crown appeals of Court proceedings and now largely due to the failure of the Security Intelligence Service promptly to provide the Inspector-General with all classified information held by them. As late as April 2006 the SIS had notified the Inspector-General that they felt 'obliged' to draw his attention to "new" material. Some of this material was documentation held on SIS files and in their possession before the security risk certificate was issued, some three and a half years ago. On 5 December 2005, the Director of Security issued a Statement of Allegations against Mr Zaoui dated 5 December 2005 - his third in succession - with footnotes and reference material to follow. These were not provided to the Inspector-General until mid-June 2006, some six months later, and appear to have been still incomplete.

Mr Zaoui is yet to receive a comprehensive summary of the allegations against him despite the High Court having ruled on 19 December 2003 that he was entitled to one. The Director of Security has ever since then been progressively adding and indeed also withdrawing allegations against Mr Zaoui, despite Mr Zaoui's counsel consistently pressing for a complete and comprehensive summary of the case against him.

Nine major international witnesses were scheduled to travel to New Zealand to give evidence on Mr Zaoui's behalf at the August hearing. A number of these witnesses had already arranged their travel to New Zealand. They include busy academics who have set aside time in their schedule to make the trip to New Zealand. This development (the adjournment) could be detrimental to Mr Zaoui's ability to call these witnesses again in the event of their future unavailability.

These delays are a huge disappointment to Mr Zaoui and his counsel. It is now probable that the case will drag on well into next year.

Mr Zaoui remains separated from his family

Mr Zaoui remains separated from his family: his wife and four children. His children in particular are suffering due to the separation from their father, which is approaching four years. One of the children has learning disabilities, and his development and education are being severely impaired due to the separation from his father. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has previously called upon the New Zealand Government to resettle the family in New Zealand as they are refugees in their own right, but the Government has declined to do so.

Call upon Government to intervene

In light of the these latest developments and ongoing delays, counsel for Mr Zaoui again call upon the Government to intervene in the Zaoui case by withdrawing reliance on the security risk certificate. The point has long since been reached where a pursuit of a process which the Prime Minister herself acknowledges to be seriously flawed should be discontinued outright.

ENDS

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