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Terror accused refuse to stand for judge
NINE Sydney men who pleaded not guilty to conspiring to plan a terrorist bombing in Australia refused to stand before the bench when they appeared in court today.
The men, all of whom were arrested in an anti-terrorism sweep in November last year, are now likely to face a year-long trial beginning in February.
Omar Baladjam, Khaled Cheikho, Moustafa Cheikho, Mohamed Elomar, Abdul Rakib Hasan, Mohammad Omar Jamal, Mirsad Mulahalilovic, Khaled Sharrouf and Mazen Touma appeared before NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy today and pleaded not guilty to a charge of conspiring to plan a terrorist act.
The men broke with convention and did not stand before the judge as the charges against them were read out and their pleas received, with lawyer Adam Houda saying religious observances prevented them from doing so.
"The accused have a problem with standing up," Mr Houda said, and added the men intended no disrespect to the court.
All of the nine wore beards and five wore traditional muslim islamic attire.
The chatted among themselves, and as they were led away from court some of them exchanged chants of "Allahuakbar" or "God is great" with their friends and supporters in the public gallery.
The matter will return to court in August.
I am only guessing here but I imagine that Australian courtrooms are laid out in a similar style to British ones. Above the Judge’s bench is the Royal Coat of Arms – in Australia it will probably be the Australian Coat of Arms but Queen Elizabeth is still the monarch. When lawyers and court officials face the Judge and bow, they are not bowing to the man or woman but to the authority he or she represents. When the Judge bows back that authority is recognising the respect shown. I suspect that these men decided to try to make a cheap point in not recognising the authority of the court.
I took this Coat of Arms from the Federal Court of Australia website. I have always admired the Kangaroo supporter and the Emu has much to recommend him. There is also the red Cross ofSt George of New South Wales, the Southern Cross of Victoria and the Maltese cross of Queensland.