Police found to have mishandled threat assessment of Zaoui

Green Party Police Spokesperson Keith Locke wants the Police to own up to its mishandling of the Ahmed Zaoui case, now exposed in a report by the Police Complaints Authority.

Judge Ian Borrin has handed down his findings after complaints from former Progressive MP Matt Robson and Mr Zaoui’s lawyer Deborah Manning

“It was a bumbling Police effort which seriously prejudiced Mr Zaoui’s case to stay in New Zealand. Judge Borrin’s findings show that Mr. Zaoui has been the victim of misinformation from the first week he arrived here in December 2002,” Mr Locke says.

“The tragedy is that Mr Zaoui was put in solitary confinement for 10 months because of a Police threat assessment which Judge Borrin says ‘was not well considered nor well constructed’. It drew upon dubious sites on the Internet and claims originating from the Algerian junta. The Police report not only misled Interpol that Mr Zaoui had confessed to being a member of the terrorist GIA group — it set the agenda for Corrections to place him in solitary confinement.

“I concur with the Judge’s view that ‘it is doubtful there was any need for’ Mr Zaoui’s isolation from other prisoners, on the grounds of personal safety. I didn’t find any hostility among his fellow D-Block prisoners when I visited Mr Zaoui in Paremoremo.

“I am convinced the isolation of Mr Zaoui had more to do with another practice condemned by Judge Borrin, which was the Police curbing of Mr Zaoui’s right of access to potential supporters or the media.

“Yes, there was a ‘risk’ that the truth about Mr Zaoui, that he was a persecuted democratic politician, would get out — as it has, particularly since he was released into the community on bail while the Security Risk Certificate hanging over him is considered.

” Luckily for the SIS, Judge Borrin lacked a mandate with regard to the role of the SIS. Yet the report leaves open the possibility that Mr Zaoui was denied his legal rights during a covertly filmed 11 hour interview conducted in a foreign language, and that almost certainly became part of the subsequent rationale for issuing the certificate. This interview was not disclosed by the SIS to the Inspector-General, until after the Police revealed it had taken place.

“The only satisfactory conclusion to this litany of errors is for the certificate to be lifted, and Mr Zaoui re-united with his family.