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Judge puts Australia's largest terrorism tria -

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Judge puts Australia's largest terrorism trial on hold

Broadcast: 20/03/2008

Reporter: Emma O'Sullivan

Supreme Court Justice Bernard Bongiorno has put Australia's largest terrorism trial on hold, and
demanded that prison authorities improve conditions for the men.


TONY JONES: A Supreme Court judge has put Australia's largest terrorism trial on hold and demanded
that prison authorities improve conditions for the men. Justice Bernard Bongiorno has agreed with
defence lawyers that the men's incarceration in Victoria is having such an effect on them that the
trial is currently unfair. Emma O'Sullivan reports.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: Defence lawyers for the men were pleased their clients will be moved out of the
strictest prison regime in Victoria.

JIM KENNAN SC, DEFENCE LAWYER: This is an important recognition by the Victorian Supreme Court of
the right to a fair trial.

EMMA O'SULLIVAN: Their clients have pleaded not guilty to forming a terrorist organisation. The 12
have all been remanded in custody for at least two years ahead of their trial, which started before
a jury last month. Lawyers argued the men weren't being given a fair trial because the conditions
of their incarceration were affecting their ability to concentrate and give instructions. The court
heard the men are housed in single cells in the maximum security Acacia Unit at Barwon Prison.
They're handcuffed and shackled when they're brought to court and strip searched twice a day.

Justice Bongiorno told the court he'd visited Acacia and inspected the prison van before he made
his ruling. He said neither prosecutors or Corrections Victoria had presented evidence to explain
why the men were classified as high security prisoners. He's demanded changes for the men before
the trial can continue, including that they be incarcerated for the rest of the trial at the
Melbourne Assessment Prison, that their out of cell hours on days when they do not attend court be
not less than 10 and that they otherwise be subjected to conditions of incarceration, not more
onerous that those normally imposed on ordinary remand prisoners.

The prosecution had previously criticised the defence for making the application about the
conditions after the trial had started. The trial has been adjourned until 31 March, or until the
Department of Justice has informed the court the changes have been made.

Emma O'Sullivan, Lateline.