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Late guilty plea in terror trial
From The Australian
A MELBOURNE Muslim convert who allegedly pledged to al-Qa'ida leader Osama bin Laden to pursue violent jihad while he was undertaking paramilitary training in Afghanistan has pleaded guilty to two terrorism charges in an apparent last-minute deal with prosecutors.
The trial of Shane Kent, 33, on three terrorism charges, including belonging to a Melbourne Muslim terror cell that allegedly planned to attack the MCG during the 2005 AFL grand final, had been due to begin yesterday afternoon in the Victorian Supreme Court.
Instead, in a dramatic turnaround, Kent pleaded guilty to one count of intentionally belonging to a terrorist organisation and one reduced count of recklessly making a document connected with preparing a terrorist act, which related to an al-Qa'ida propaganda video he helped to produce.
A Supreme Court jury had earlier failed to reach a verdict on whether Kent was a member of the Melbourne terror group when he stood trial last year.
The seven-month trial was told how the group's plans to launch an attack on the 2005 AFL grand final at the MCG or on the Crown casino during the Melbourne Grand Prix were disrupted by ASIO raids.
Kent, the only Anglo-Saxon member of the group, had converted to Islam when he was 19. He began going by the name "Yassin" and married a Muslim.
During yesterday's brief hearing, Judge David Byrne refused to continue Kent's bail, which had been granted in October under strict conditions,
Justice Byrne said he did not accept that such exceptional circumstances had been proven and remanded Kent, who stood impassively in the dock wearing a black jacket and dark grey open-necked shirt, in custody until August 17.