Tongan convicted murderer locked up with New Zealand mosque shooter Brenton Tarrant in special ‘prison within a prison’

A Tongan convicted murderer is  being guarded in a special “prison within a prison” along with the Christchurch mosque shooter, Brenton Tarrant, at a huge cost to the New Zealand taxpayers.

A third notoriously violent criminal Hemi Te Poono has been also locked up in the same unit of the prison.

This has been revealed last week in a story published by the New Zealand Herald.

Siuaki Lisiate, who was of Tongan descent, was sentenced to preventive detention for stabbing murderer Graeme Burton, an amputee, more than 40 times with a shank. Burton is serving a life sentence with a minimum non-parole period of 26 years for shooting Karl Kuchenbecker dead in Lower Hutt in 2007.

Lisiate, a Crips gang boss, also known as JFK or Just F***ing Krazy ordered the 2009 execution of rival Bloods gang member, Tue Faavae, at Auckland Prison – the same place where Burton was attacked.

Faavae, 23, was strangled to death with a radio power cord in a gang-related revenge killing.

Lisiate was sentenced in 2011 to life imprisonment for the murder, with a minimum non-parole period of 18 years.

The special prison 

The facility, known as the Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit, was set up four months after  Tarrant murdered 51 worshippers and injured 40 others at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques, the Herald reported.

Tarrant was sentenced to life without parole.

“Based within Auckland Prison but run separately, the unit is the operational and custodial function of the Prisoners of Extreme Risk Directorate – a group also established in response to the March 15 terror attack,” it said.

“Its role has since been expanded and Corrections National Commissioner Rachel Leota says it now manages other inmates who present “an ongoing risk of serious violence”.

It also supervises prisoners who have the ability to “influence others to engage in serious violence or threats”.

As well as “violent extremists”, Leota says offenders connected to organised crime groups may also fall under the group’s purview given their “capability to seriously threaten the safety and security of a prison”.

“It is a separate entity – a prison within prison,” a source said of the Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit.

Unit cost

“It’s a secret squirrel operation. There is a special vetting system for staff to work there.”

Corrections says the unit cost $2.77 million in the year to October 31, excluding the salaries of the six staff in its management group.

That compares to Corrections spending about $1.1 billion in 2020 to guard close to 10,000 prisoners across all its facilities.

The average population at Auckland Prison on any given day in the 2019/20 financial year was 522, a Corrections spokesman said.

A further $150,000 has been spent so far on modifications within the unit to protect the “health, safety and security” of staff and inmates. Leota refused to release specific details because it was “operationally sensitive”.

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