Terror suspect taken to task

A SUPREME Court judge has hit out at accused terror suspect Wissam Mahmoud Fattal for attempting to blackmail the court.

Mr Fattal and three co-accused, Saney Aweys, Abdirahman Ahmed and Yacqub Khayre, have been ordered to stand trial over an alleged plot to kill Australian soldiers at the Holsworthy army base.  The men appeared briefly before Victorian Supreme Court judge Betty King yesterday.

The court heard that Mr Fattal had at first refused legal counsel until his request to be moved from Barwon Prison to the Melbourne Remand Centre was met.   Since being moved, Mr Fattal had continued to refuse legal counsel and had made requests to socialise with his co-accused in custody, the court heard.

Justice King attacked the terror suspect’s behaviour.

“Mr Fattal does not get to blackmail the court or Corrections,” she said. “The court is not going to permit you to state under what conditions you will be represented or not represented.”

Mr Fattal was instructed to stand up as he was being addressed by Justice King, but he refused.  “I respect you but I am not going to stand up,” Mr Fattal said.  He refused a similar order to stand up last year in a bail application before magistrate Peter Reardon in the Melbourne Magistrates Court.

Justice King did not force the alleged terror suspect to stand, but told him: “You need to make a decision to be represented at an appropriate time and that appropriate time is now.”  Mr Fattal said “Yeah, all right” before indicating through a Legal Aid representative that he would accept a lawyer.

Mr Aweys also interrupted the short proceeding and asked: “Can I speak for myself?”

Denied permission to do so by Justice King, Mr Aweys told the court through his lawyer that he was having difficulties understanding some of the material that had been provided to him.  Justice King indicated the trial of the four men could be delayed because of subpoena issues raised yesterday.

The matter was adjourned for a later mention.

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