Then There is This – Almost the same day….
Convicted terrorist leader to challenge citizenship decision
A convicted terrorist leader will fight to have his Australian citizenship returned, with authorities planning to deport him, a court has heard.
The convicted leader of a terrorist cell in Australia will fight to have his citizenship returned, a court has heard.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika returned before the Victorian Supreme Court on Friday as a trial began on what, if any, conditions should be put in place after an order keeping him in prison expires.
He appeared remotely, seen wearing a green T-shirt and sporting a large grey and red beard, and was taking notes throughout the hearing.
The Algeria-born man emigrated to Australia more than 30 years ago and became a citizen in 1998.
Benbrika was jailed for 15 years in 2009 after he was convicted on charges relating to his leadership of a terrorist organisation preparing to commit a terror attack.
His trial was told he had an “enormous influence” over the young men who followed him and sought to imbue a fanatical hatred of non-Muslims.
Abdul Nacer Benbrika has asked the court to review a decision to grant a continuing detention order in 2020. Picture: ABC
Before his sentence expired in 2020, then home affairs Minister Peter Dutton applied for a continuing detention order to keep him behind bars.
The order allows courts to keep convicted terrorists in custody for up to three years if they come to the view they pose a continued danger to the community.
The court heard the order is due to expire in December this year, with counsel representing Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus now asking the court to place him on an extended supervision order.
Counsel for the Attorney-General, Peter Hanks KC, told the court Benbrika’s Australian citizenship was revoked in 2020 and he was placed on an ex-citizen visa.
He said Benbrika’s visa was cancelled last month, with authorities planning to place him in immigration detention at the maximum security Long Bay jail in NSW when the detention order ends.
“He’s not being released into the community,” he said.
“There’s an obligation to remove that person from Australia as soon as practical.”
The court heard Benbrika’s ex-citizen visa was cancelled under the Migration Act in May. Picture: Supplied
The court heard Benbrika has launched legal action challenging the removal of his citizenship, set to be heard in the High Court later this month.
“If the court makes a judgment the legislation is invalid … that will have consequences,” Mr Hanks said.
“If that situation changes, the court can expect an application by the Minister to vary that order.
“That would be made as a matter of urgency.”
Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth questioned why a supervision order is necessary, given Benbrika will be moved to immigration detention following the completion of his continuing detention order.
“Why do I need to assume there is a need for any conditions … If he’s in a max security prison,” she said.
“I’m troubled by the suggestion the effect of an ESO might be to, on the facts, impose a far harsher regimen.”
Mr Hanks said the conditions Benbrika would be subject to in Long Bay prison are currently unclear.
“It’s only when Corrections NSW makes an assessment of Mr Benbrika to determine security classification,” he said.
“All of that needs to be done within that system.”
Running alongside the trial to determine the need for an extended supervision order, Benbrika’s lawyers have asked the court to review the continuing detention order.
It’s alleged, after the order was put in place, Benbrika became aware of a report critical of a risk assessment tool used in his case not provided to his lawyers.
In his opening address on Friday, Mr Hanks said the report wasn’t handed over due to human error.
“There was no conspiracy,” he said.
The court heard it was not alleged Benbrika posed a “lone-wolf” risk but allegedly was a risk of radicalising others in the community.
Counsel acting for Benbrika, Dan Star KC, is expected to deliver his opening address on Monday.
He flagged he would raise what he believed were “deep issues” with the Attorney-General’s case.