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Convicted terrorist released in Melbourne after 18 years

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Abdul Nacer Benbrika, a convicted terrorist who has spent nearly 20 years behind bars, was released under strict conditions in Melbourne.
Benbrika terrorist

A convicted terrorist will be released from prison today after a ruling in Victoria’s Supreme Court.

Abdul Nacer Benbrika has been detained since his arrest in 2005 over several terror offences, including plans to attack the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

He will now live under an “extended supervision order” (ESO) for at least a year. The ESO includes travel restrictions and daily curfews.

Background

Abdul Nacer Benbrika was born in Algeria. He arrived in Australia in 1989 and became an Australian citizen in 1998.

Benbrika was sentenced to 15 years in prison over his involvement in a Melbourne-based terrorist organisation.

During his 2008 trial, the court heard evidence Benbrika had listed multiple potential attack targets, including the AFL Grand Final, the Grand Prix weekend and Crown Casino.

Citizenship

In 2020, the Home Affairs Minister was granted powers to cancel the citizenships of convicted dual-citizen terrorists. Peter Dutton was Minister at the time and moved to revoke Benbrika’s citizenship.

Australia’s High Court later struck down the law. Benbrika’s lawyers then argued Dutton’s decision was invalid and Benbrika’s Australian citizenship should be reinstated.

Last month, the High Court ruled in favour of Benbrika.

Release

Despite having served the length of his 15-year sentence, Benbrika was being kept in prison under what’s known as a “continuing detention order” (CDO).

Benbrika’s CDO was due to expire later this month.

Today, the Supreme Court of Victoria ordered the release of Benbrika under a less restrictive ESO which allows a convicted person to live in the community under a set of court-ruled conditions.

Conditions

Under strict ESO conditions, Benbrika will now face a 10pm-6am daily curfew.

He cannot leave Australia without approval from federal police. He is also barred from contacting any convicted criminals or several high-risk names identified by the court.

The court ordered he must also attend de-radicalisation programs. The ESO begins today and will last one year.

Response

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus welcomed the court’s decision. However, he said the Government had wanted to impose the ESO for three years instead of just one.

Dreyfus said the Government will carefully consider the Court’s decision before determining its next steps.

The Opposition had urged the Government to keep Benbrika behind bars, saying the Government chose “not to ask the courts to continue Benbrika’s detention”.

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