WELLINGTON, New Zealand, May 4 (UPI) -- The New Zealand Immigration Service has ordered a former member of Saddam Hussein's cabinet to leave the country, TV New Zealand reported Wednesday.
Amer Mahdi Saleh al-Khashali, Iraq's agriculture minister under Hussein, was in New Zealand on a visitor's visa Wednesday. However, unless he appeals the Immigration Service's decision, he and his wife will have to leave the country.
New Zealand government officials said they did not know whether Khashali will appeal, but they noted former Iraqi diplomat Zohair Mohammad al-Omar, who was handed similar orders, has indicated he will not appeal.
New Zealand First leader Winston Peters said Wednesday Khashali served at the time of the genocide of Kurdish people in Iraq, and New Zealand law does not allow refugee status to anyone who has committed crimes against humanity.
All branches of the New Zealand Immigration Service have been ordered to send visa applications from identified high risk nations to the service's head office. A special task force is being convened to review such applications and will start with countries having a record of oppressive regimes and crimes against humanity, TVNZ said.