The rationale for declining to prosecute Abdul Nacer Benbrika largely seems to boil down to “Eh, we don’t feel like it.” The judge also opined that it would be “oppressive” to the jihadists, and “the oppression outweighs the public interest in trying the accused.”
Surely their “hearts and minds” have been duly won.
First, a profile of who might be freed so soon: “Terror cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika headed twin cells,” by Cameron Stewart for The Australian, September 21 (thanks to J):
The nation’s two largest terror cells were linked by a common spiritual leader, joint terror training camps and close friendships between extremists in Melbourne and Sydney.
After a Victorian judge yesterday threw out a second round of charges against convicted terrorists, it can be revealed that self-proclaimed Muslim cleric Abdul Nacer Benbrika was considered the central figure and the driving force behind both cells in Melbourne and Sydney.
The groups’ targets were to have included a terrorist strike on the 2005 AFL grand final between the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles, Melbourne’s Crown casino during Grand Prix weekend in 2006 and Sydney’s Lucas Heights nuclear reactor.
Benbrika, who is currently serving a minimum 12 years in jail for leading a terrorist organisation, was recorded telling one of his followers: “If we want to die for jihad, we have to have maximum damage. Maximum damage. Damage their buildings, everything. Damage their lives. To show them, we’ll have to be careful.”
The close links between the two extremist groups – potentially the most deadly in Australia’s history – can be revealed for the first time after the Victorian Supreme Court yesterday threw out new charges against four members of the Melbourne cell and lifted 21 supression orders that had blanketed names and evidence from the twin trials in Melbourne in 2008 and Sydney in 2009.
Judge Terry Forrest rejected a proposed second trial for the four men, Benbrika, Aimen Joud, Fadl Sayadi and Ahmed Raad, who were charged with conspiracy to do acts in preparation of a terrorist act, as an abuse of the court process. All four had already been jailed for most of their criminal conduct and if found guilty, would not receive “significant additional terms of imprisonment”.
“While I have found that this second prosecution was commenced in good faith, I consider the objective effect of trying each accused a second time is oppressive,” Justice Forrest said.
The lifting of the supression orders, which had obscured from public view the shared purpose and co-operation between the groups, means that the full extent of Benbrika’s network of extremist followers can be exposed…..
More: “Abdul Benbrika and other terrorists wanted to kill but can’t be prosecuted,” by Keith Moor for the Herald Sun, September 21 (thanks to Twostellas):
Radical Muslim cleric Abdul Benbrika has escaped trial over his plot to bomb Australia and he could walk free from jail in only six years.
One of his co-accused Melbourne terrorists already has been released and the other two are eligible to be freed in November.
The decision to abandon the case was made despite terror cell members associated with Benbrika ordering or buying all the chemicals and equipment needed to make a “Mother of Satan” bomb capable of killing hundreds.
Police planted many listening devices in the homes of various cell members and secretly recorded 16,418 hours of Benbrika and the Melbourne and Sydney cell members talking during a 16-month inquiry.
They also tapped hundreds of phones and monitored 97,480 calls between Benbrika and Melbourne and Sydney cell members in relation to their alleged plot to commit a terrorist act, which would not be put before a jury.
The police and legal costs associated with trying to get Benbrika and three of his followers to trial on conspiracy to commit a terrorist act charges were at least $20 million.
Police disappointed case scrapped
This morning police were philosophical that the case would not go ahead.
Acting Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said he could understand officers being “a little bit disappointed– the case against Benbrika and three other Melbourne terror cell members would not proceed. […]
But Victorian Supreme Court judge Terry Forrest recently granted a defence application to permanently stay the conspiracy case against Benbrika, Joud, Sayadi and Raad, saying it would be “oppressive” to subject them to a second trial.
Police and prosecutors are privately disappointed the case has been abandoned as they consider the evidence against Benbrika and his three co-accused was overwhelming.
In handing down his decision to abandon the conspiracy to commit a terrorist act charges, Justice Forrest said if it had proceeded it would be “lengthy, complex and expensive”.
Justice Forrest also found each of the men would not receive a significantly longer sentence if convicted in the second trial.
“I have concluded that the proposed conspiracy trial is an abuse of the court’s process and that I ought to stay it permanently in respect of all accused,” he said.
“The public interest in bringing the accused men to trial is diminished by the fact that they have already been prosecuted and punished for most of their criminal conduct and that they will not receive significant additional terms of imprisonment.
“While I have found that this second prosecution was commenced in good faith, I consider the objective of trying each accused a second time is oppressive.
“It is oppressive because each of the accused has already been the subject of a very lengthy first criminal trial involving at times unconscionably harsh conditions of incarceration and transport.
“I am satisfied that all four accused men have made out their individual cases for abuse of process on the basis of oppression.
It is a common jihadist practice to claim abuse and torture in custody. Al-Qaeda has provided step-by-step instructions.
“In each case, in my view, the oppression outweighs the public interest in trying the accused.”…