Pop group Goldenhorse visit refugee Ahmed Zaoui

By PHILIP ENGLISH

Three members of the band Goldenhorse spent 90 minutes with Algerian refugee Ahmed Zaoui yesterday, helping him to celebrate his 44th birthday at the Auckland Central Remand Prison with a rendition of their song Maybe Tomorrow.

Band members Kirsten Morelle, Geoff Maddock and Ben King said Mr Zaoui was in good spirits if a little anxious at the outcome of his Supreme Court bail hearing in Wellington tomorrow. It could see him released after having been imprisoned without charge for two years following his arrival from Malaysia without a valid passport to claim refugee status.

He has spent three birthdays behind bars on the basis of a still-secret security risk certificate issued by the Security Intelligence Service.

The band members said Mr Zaoui was touched and excited about the song and knew the words although authorities would not allow a guitar or the remaining two members of the band inside.

Food was also the subject of conversation with Mr Zaoui, who shared recipes for couscous and a chicken dish.

The three band members, suspecting that food inside the remand centre would be "pretty miserable", focused on trying to cheer Mr Zaoui up and so steered clear of what he was eating inside, instead "talking about what he might eat once he gets out".

"It felt like we were there to deliver Happy Birthday wishes but you could see people ... You could sense people ... There were families and kids. " said Morelle.

The three denied that their visit was a publicity stunt.

"I do not believe Zaoui should be in prison. I do not believe he should be where he is. That is why we are here. People should not be in prison without a trial," said Maddock.

Mr Zaoui's lawyer, Deborah Manning, said that tomorrow's news whether his bail application was successful or not would be taken to him or she would speak to him over the telephone.

She was hoping for the best but "at times we've had nothing more than hope to run on in this case."

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