A member of 'West Memphis Three' has been granted a New Zealand visa following the intervention of Sir Peter Jackson.
27 October 2011
Peter Jackson aids New Zealand visa grant for one of West Memphis Three
A man previously convicted of murder in the United States has been granted a New Zealand visa following the intervention of Oscar-winning Kiwi film director Sir Peter Jackson.
West Memphis Three member Damien Echols has entered New Zealand despite having been convicted of murdering three 8-year-old cub scouts in Arkansas in 1993, which would prohibit him from entry under section 15 of the New Zealand Immigration Act 2009.
However, reports suggest immigration authorities granted Mr Echols a New Zealand visa after it received a character waiver from Peter Jackson, who is hosting Echols in New Zealand and is allegedly researching a potential film about the famous murder case.
In 2007, Echols and his co-accused Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley Jr were released after new forensic evidence was presented to the Arkansas Supreme Court.
Echols' release after 18 years on death row followed a 7-year legal battle funded partly by members of the arts community who were interested in the case, including Sir Jackson.
According to a report in the New Zealand Herald, it is possible Echols has been offered a small role in Jackson's upcoming film The Hobbit currently in production in New Zealand. However, it is believed Echols has not been granted a visa that would allow work of this kind.
New Zealand Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy that specialises in helping people emigrate to New Zealand.