Trial planned for Australian terrorist after deported from Turkey

DARWIN, 2 Dec 2022:

Australia will try its “most dangerous” Jihadist on terrorism charges upon his arrival today in the country after being deported from Turkey, police reported.

The alleged extremist – identified as Neil Prakash, 31 – will appear throughout the day before a court in the northern city of Darwin as police request to move the case to the Victoria region, in the southeast, where the suspect was born and lived before joining the Islamic State in 2016

The alleged Islamic fundamentalist, described by former attorney general George Brandis as the “most dangerous man” in the country, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of “a series of serious terrorist offences.”

Prakash, known as Abu Khaled al-Cambodi, is linked to several plots to attack Australia and was known for calling on social media for so-called “lone wolves” to carry out attacks in the US.

Born in Melbourne in 1991, the former rapper with a Fijian father and Cambodian mother, was arrested in November 2016 in Turkey, a country that accuses him of various charges related to his militancy in the Islamic State.

The Australian government, which presumed him dead after a US attack in the Iraqi city of Mosul, revoked his citizenship in 2018, saying he was a Fijian national – but the Australian justice system invalidated this measure.

Separately, prosecutors today withdrew the accusation for an alleged rape committed in 2019 in the Australian parliament – for the “unacceptable risk” suffered by the life of the victim, hospitalised for the trauma and personal attacks against her.

The withdrawal of the accusation means the suspension of the process, as announced by the Prosecutor’s Office’s director Shane Drumgold – who said that although the search for justice is “essential,” the safety of a complainant in a issue of sexual assault “must be paramount,” state channel ABC reported.

The complainant, Brittany Higgins, accused then-Liberal Party adviser Bruce Lehrmann in February 2021 of raping her on the night of 22 March 2019 in a ministerial office of the parliament – in a case that shook the country’s political scene.

The first trial began on Oct 4, but was annulled days later, on Oct 27 – after it was revealed that one of its members illegally accessed extrajudicial documents.

The defendant, a co-worker of the alleged victim, pleaded not guilty to the rape charge and denied having had a sexual exchange with the plaintiff.

The Australian Capital Territory High Court was scheduled to start a second trial on Feb 20.

“During the investigation and trial as a sexual assault whistleblower, Ms Higgins has faced a level of personal attack that I have not seen in over 20 years in this job,” Drumgold told reporters.

The prosecutor said the two independent physicians recently warned “that the ongoing trauma associated with this prosecution presents a significant and unacceptable risk to the life of the complainant” at the possibility of having to testify and hear the testimony of the defendants again.

“This has left me no choice but to submit a notice refusing to proceed with the new trial (…) and to end the prosecution,” Drumgold said – while praising Higgins’ “courage, grace and dignity.”

Higgins is hospitalised receiving psychiatric treatment because the pressure and attacks after her complaint “have been difficult and relentless,” Emma Webster, a friend of the victim, said in a statement.

“While it is disappointing that the trial ended this way, Brittany’s health and safety must always come first,” Webster added.

The case of Higgins, who became a symbol for denouncing sexual abuse in the workplace, motivated other women to report incidents of harassment and sexual assault in parliament and began a series of investigations into the alleged crimes and management of these cases.