28 Nov 2015

NZ veteran will fight to stay in Australia

2:22 pm on 28 November 2015

A New Zealand veteran being held in an Australian prison without charge begins his legal fight to stay in the country next week.

Detained New Zealander Ko Haapu.

Detained New Zealander Ko Haapu in 2011. Photo: SNPA

Ko Haapu, who was a body-guard for Prime Minister John Key in Afghanistan in 2010, has had his visa revoked on character grounds - even though he has no criminal record.

Mr Haapu - who is associated with the Rebels motorcycle club - is one of dozens of New Zealanders who have been detained and deported under tough new rules that were introduced late last year.

Barrister Michael Pena-Rees, who represents Mr Haapu and three other New Zealand detainees, said he would be filing his appeal in the federal court in Perth on Tuesday.

The Australian Government indicated it would be fast-tracking detainee cases, which Mr Pena-Rees said was good news for detainees who were "effectively serving a sentence" without being convicted of a crime, or with any end date in view.

However, due process must still be followed and evidence produced.

"Streamlining is great, but it doesn't negate the proper inquiries that have to be made so the case can run properly and fairly."

Mr Pena-Rees was sceptical about claims by Australia Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that he was privy to confidential information about Mr Haapu.

"If the 'X file' had anything there of any substance, then I'm sure that this fellow Ko would have been charged or there would be pending charges or further investigation.

"But that isn't going to happen because the file is really of a generic nature, talking about this particular club as a whole - not this individual."

He will be asking for an undertaking that Mr Haapu not be deported before the case goes to court.

He will also follow up approaches from veterans' associations in both Australia and New Zealand to see what support they could offer Mr Haapu in his current predicament.

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