Melbourne, 15 Sept. (AKI) – An Australian court has found one man guilty of leading a terrorist organisation and several others of being members of the group in the country’s biggest-ever terrorism trial.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48, from the southern city of Melbourne, was found guilty in the Supreme Court of intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation to foster or prepare attacks in pursuit of violent jihad.
Five of Benbrika’s followers were found guilty of intentionally being members of a terrorist group. Aimen Joud, Fadl Sayadi, Ezzit Raad, Ahmed Raad, Abdullah Merhi were all convicted.
Another four men were acquitted of all charges against them. However the jury is yet to reach verdicts on three counts against two of the accused men.
Those convicted will return to court for a plea hearing in November.
Benbrika’s lawyer Remy Van der Wiel said would not speculate on whether or not there will be an appeal against his client’s conviction.
“I don’t make those decisions, my client makes those decisions,” he said.
The four acquitted – Hany Taha, Majed Raad, Shoue Hammoud and Bassam Raad – left the court after hugging their co-accused.
The jury is yet to decide on the fate of Shane Kent and Amer Haddara.
The 12 men, all from Melbourne’s northern suburbs, all pleaded not guilty.
The men, who were arrested in 2005, were accused of planning terrorist acts in Melbourne, involving the detonation of an explosive or use of weapons.
The trial heard from more than 50 witnesses and was played thousands of hours of telephone intercepts and other recordings.
The jury – made up of nine women and three men – took over three weeks to decide the fate of the accused.