THE families of terror victims have described the decision by an appeals court to release “Jihad” Jack Thomas – the first man jailed under the Howard Government’s new terrorism laws – as a farce.
A Melbourne court’s decision yesterday to quash the conviction of the Muslim convert – who met Osama bin Laden and other al-Qa’ida operatives just months before the September 11 attacks – was embarrassing for the Government and the Australian Federal Police and distressing for families of terror victims.
Although Mr Thomas could face fresh terror charges arising out of an ABC interview conducted in his Melbourne home during the trial and aired after the conviction, Peter Iliffe, the father of a Bali bombing victim, said the decision to free him showed how “disconnected the judiciary was from reality”.
And David Byron, who lost his 15-year-old daughter Chloe in Bali, said there should be “zero tolerance” for those accused of terrorism. “I don’t know what’s happening in this country. I read that another terrorist was released in Indonesia last week because of a holiday.”
But the lawyer for Faheem Lodhi, a Sydney man convicted of preparing a terrorist attack, praised the court’s decision as “good old-fashioned” justice.