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Lodhi found guilty of plotting terrorist atta -

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Lodhi found guilty of plotting terrorist attack

Reporter: Leigh Sales

QUENTIN DEMPSTER: Today, in the New South Wales Supreme Court, Faheem Khalid Lodhi became the first
person convicted under the new counter-terror laws of plotting a terrorist attack on Australian
soil. Mr Lodhi faced four terrorism-related counts, including that he had bomb-making instructions,
a map of the Australian Electricity Grid and photos of Defence sites - all with the aim of mounting
a terrorist attack. The prosecution also claimed he'd been gathering information on chemicals to
build an explosive device. A jury largely agreed with the Crown, finding Mr Lodhi guilty on three
of the four counts. The outcome of the case is highly significant, as it's one of the earliest
tests of the new counter-terror laws' effectiveness. The ABC's national security correspondent,
Leigh Sales, has spent the last two months covering the trial.

LEIGH SALES, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: After a six-week trial, a jury deliberated for five
days to find Faheem Lodhi guilty on three of the four charges. He was acquitted of plotting to bomb
a military site but convicted of the rest. Outside the court, his barrister had nothing to say.
What kind of reaction has your client given?

PHILLIP BOULTEN SC, FAHEEM LODHI'S BARRISTER: (No response.)

LEIGH SALES: The Attorney-General was more forthcoming.

PHILIP RUDDOCK, ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I welcome that outcome but in relation to the penalty, that's not
a matter that it would be appropriate for me to comment on.

LEIGH SALES: Some of the nation's most accomplished barristers are involved in terrorist trials
like this one because they're setting such important precedents. Phillip Boulten SC, one of the
best defence counsels money could buy, represented Faheem Lodhi, even though the accused was only
on legal aid. Lodhi is the second terror suspect Mr Boulten's acted for and a few weeks ago, the
barrister outlined his experiences in those cases in a paper delivered to the NSW Public Defenders
conference. The ABC obtained a copy of the paper but didn't report it for fear of influencing the
Lodhi jury. In it, Mr Boulten is scathing of the impact the counter-terror laws are having on the
ability to hold fair trials, saying: "The combination of ASIO's coercive powers, the broad
definition of terrorist offences, the extremely harsh conditions of custody in which terrorist
suspects are held and the running commentary of politicians and the media about the arrest,
prosecution and detention of terrorist suspects are all combining to create very difficult
conditions for the trials of these people". He particularly criticises ASIO, saying the security
agency is misusing its new questioning and detention powers to go on fishing expeditions.

PHILLIP BOULTEN SC (BRIEFING PAPER): My concern is that the questioning regime is being used by
ASIO to gather information to add to its broader base of intelligence. The powers are not strictly
used to obtain information that might be relevant to a specific, identifiable terrorism offence.
They are not being used for their stated and intended purpose.

LEIGH SALES: ASIO disputes that type of criticism, writing in a recent submission to a
parliamentary inquiry that its own interests wouldn't be served by unnecessary questioning of
people peripheral to terrorist activity. So far, the practical results of the new terror laws in
the courts have been mixed. None of the outcomes have been as emphatic as authorities would have
liked. But what the cases are showing is that despite the controversy surrounding the fairness of
the laws, the jury system is prevailing - when the evidence isn't compelling enough, juries aren't
convicting. Until the combined raids in Sydney and Melbourne last November, just five people had
been charged under the terror laws. Two, Izhar ul-Haque and Bilal Khazal, will face trial later
this year. Of the three to go through the system, the first was Zaky Mallah. He was acquitted of
two terrorism charges but sentenced to 2.5 years in jail for threatening an ASIO agent. 'Jihad'
Jack Thomas was charged in Victoria but was acquitted on a charge of providing support to
terrorists. He was convicted of possessing a false passport and receiving funds from a terrorist
organisation, but an appeal is pending. And today, Faheem Lodhi was convicted on three counts but
acquitted on a fourth.

ANDREW LYNCH, UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES: Clearly, the jury has been able to separate the issues
and consider which of the facts they find support the prosecution's case beyond a reasonable doubt
and to reject those that they don't, so, overall, I think, we should be very encouraged by the way
in which the jury system is working.

LEIGH SALES: But Andrew Lynch, the director of the terrorism and law project at the University of
NSW, says it's too soon to judge the overall effectiveness of the counter-terror laws.

ANDREW LYNCH: Only time will tell with further cases. I think three is still quite early.

LEIGH SALES: Faheem Lodhi will be sentenced in the NSW Supreme Court next week. Leigh Sales,
Lateline.