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Supreme Court To Decide If Zaoui Rots In Jail

Govt Leaves Supreme Court To Decide If Zaoui Rots In Jail

Ahmed Zaoui's counsel, Deborah Manning contemplates her notes, and whether her client will spend a third year in a New Zealand prison.

Even though a recent Court of Appeal decision regarding detained Algerian refugee, Ahmed Zaoui, allowed the New Zealand government to alter immigration regulations and move Mr Zaoui from his nearly two years of penal detention, there has been no sign whatsoever this is going to happen.

Progressive MP Matt Robson, about to enter the Supreme Court, considers his coalition partners in the Labour Progressive Government have failed in their commitment to human rights regarding Ahmed Zaoui.

Supreme Court Zaoui's Only Hope Of Release From Jail

At present the indefinite detention of a recognised refugee seems only to elicit calls from Labour Cabinet Ministers that Mr Zaoui get out of the country, and face whatever consequences may ensue from this course of action. As such, Mr Zaoui's lawyers, Deborah Manning and Dr Rodney Harrison QC today set out the case, to the Supreme Court, for why their client should be moved from his seemingly indefinite term of penal detention.

Much of the submissions from Mr Harrison traversed similar material already covered by Scoop in the earlier High Court and Court of Appeal proceedings.

- High Court -

- Court of Appeal -

SIS Summary Of Allegations Attacked

The Major thrust of Mr Zaoui's lawyers, regarding why his ongoing penal detention should be curtailed in favour of a more humane regime, centred around the summary of allegations released earlier this year by the Director Of Security, Richard Woods.

Dr Rodney Harrison QC outlines to the Supreme Court why Ahmed Zaoui should be moved from jail

Dr Harrison traversed some of the more farcical allegations made in this summary of allegations - particularly those surrounding Mr Zaoui's holiday video - in which the Director of Security & Intelligence Richard Woods points out that a tourist bus has nothing to do with tourism and somehow reasons only westerners are allowed to shoot tourist videos.

"The focus on places which are not obvious tourist sites but which are frequented by westerners, including an oil company building, tourist buses and an internet cafe, looked suspiciously like a "casing" video."

Leaving aside the paranoia and possible xenophobia of New Zealand's intelligence services, Dr Harrison also chose to concentrate on the more damning overseas convictions. Regarding Mr Zaoui's convictions in Belgium and France it was pointed out strenuously by Mr Zaoui's legal team that these convictions had only resulted in suspended sentences [although Mr Zaoui did spend some time in jail in Belgium].

Justices Blanchard, Gault, Elias, Keith and Eichelbaum listen to Dr Harrison. Note: Justice Eichelbaum replaces Justice Tipping, due to Justice Tipping and SIS Director Richard Woods' friendship.

Therefore Dr Harrison argued that Mr Zaoui's suspended overseas convictions had, due to the security risk certificate process, resulted in Mr Zaoui's actual detention for nearly two years. It was further pointed out that Mr Zaoui has been deemed by one of New Zealand's top prison psychiatrists to fit the criteria for the lowest possible level of risk related to absconding and violence.

- Top Psychologist says Zaoui Low Risk -

Senior NZIS Managers Ignore Court Order

There was also a number of accusations levelled at senior management of the New Zealand Immigration Service for their part in obstructing access to the Mangere Refugee Centre even following court orders. NZIS Chief Operating Officer, Brendon Quirk's earlier testimony (at the High Court in July) regarding whether or not Mr Zaoui could be held at the Mangere Refugee Centre was rubbished by Dr Harrison who stated that any fair reading of Mr Quirk's testimony "showed he was discredited".

Justice Gault listens intently

Late in the day, the hawk like Justice Gault, swooped on Dr Harrison regarding the earlier High Court (July) decision, but was decisively repelled by Dr Harrison. Dr Harrison pointed out that Justice Paterson had been so deferential in his decision to the Security Risk Certificate that he hadn't even bothered looking at the Director of Security's summary of allegations (published in full in the New Zealand Herald in February).

Chief Justice Sian Elias

And so another day of interminable listings of overseas cases and various subsections ended with the predominantly grey haired Justices and lawyers heading off to ponder whether or not an algerian intellectual should be held for another year in penal detention. One thing is certain if the judiciary boot the political football that is the Zaoui case back into the Executive's hands, Mr Zaoui will be left to rot in jail by the allegedly progressive, left leaning, human rights obsessed Labour Government.

- Hon Dr Michael Cullen – "Mr Zaoui is free to cross over the foreshore and seabed at any time…"

- Hon Margaret Wilson – "The member is undoubtedly correct that Mr Zaoui could leave New Zealand whenever he chooses."

- Hon David Benson-Pope -"Get on the plane"

Deborah Manning

Crown lawyers led by Solicitor-General Terence Arnold rise at the end of the day. Tomorrow the Crown will argue for Zaoui to be detained for as long as it takes.


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