New Zealand Ex-Lawmaker Convicted Of Shoplifting

Former New Zealand lawmaker Golriz Ghahraman was convicted of theft and fined on Thursday, in a scandal that has shattered the center-left politician’s once-promising career.

Ghahraman, the first refugee elected to New Zealand’s parliament, resigned from her political position on January 16, citing a need to manage her mental health.

The next day, authorities charged the Green Party’s erstwhile rising star with theft from boutique apparel stores.

Ghahraman pleaded guilty to four counts of shoplifting in March, after stealing over NZ$9,000 (US$5,500) in merchandise from businesses in Auckland and Wellington late last year.

The 43-year-old former justice spokeswoman for her party was fined NZ$1,600 and forced to pay NZ$260 in costs in Auckland district court, according to the deputy registrar.

Judge June Jelas stated Ghahraman’s regret, compensation for the stolen things, and the fact that she was a first-time offender saved her from a jail sentence.

In a pre-recorded interview with TVNZ aired Thursday, Ghahraman stated she shoplifted to get out of politics because it was too stressful.

“It was self-sabotage,” she added. “My great regret is to have caused other people distress and harm because I couldn’t stop and say ‘there is something wrong with you, get help’ or ‘quit’, which is what I should have done.”

Ghahraman was born in Iran and came to New Zealand as a kid with her family after being granted political asylum.

After studying law, she became a United Nations human rights lawyer, serving on international criminal tribunals before being elected to parliament in 2017.

Former Green Party co-leader James Shaw had stated that Ghahraman had faced “continuous threats” since she entered parliament, and that the pressure had increased before to her offenses.

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