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Benbrika guilty of terrorism charges -

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ELEANOR HALL: Now to breaking news and in Australia's largest and longest running terrorism trial,
a jury has come back after 21 days of deliberation with a mixed bag of verdicts.

Abdul Nacer Benbrika has been found guilty of all the charges, the most serious of which was
directing and being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Twelve people in all were facing charges but half of them have been acquitted.

And in two cases, the jury is yet to reach a verdict.

Alison Caldwell has been covering the trial and she joins us now from outside the court in
Melbourne.

Alison, this trial has run for a record time. What is it all about?

ALISON CALDWELL: Hello Eleanor, yes indeed. The whole matter has run for a very long time.

These men where all arrested back in November 2005 soon after the Federal Government passed its new
anti-terrorism laws which people might remember the Howard government passed.

The men were all arrested in raids, dawn raids around Melbourne. They were all accused of being
members of a terrorist organisation.

Some of them were also accused of providing resources to a terrorist organisation and some of them
were also accused of making funds, apart from making funds available, possessing things connected
to a terrorist organisation.

ELEANOR HALL: So what has the ringleader Benbrika been found guilty of?

ALISON CALDWELL: Abdul Nacer Benbrika, 48-year-old Abdul Nacer Benbrika, he is also known as Abu
Bakr. He has been found guilty of intentionally being a member of a terrorist organisation which
was fostering a terrorist act.

He was also found guilty of intentionally directing the activities of a terrorist organisation as
well as possessing a compact disc which was connected with the preparation of a terrorist act.

It was alleged that all of these men were planning, were in the early stages of planning a
terrorist attack on Australian soil and as you said, half of them have been acquitted of that.

ELEANOR HALL: Well, half were acquitted. Why was that?

ALISON CALDWELL: Yes, that is right. Half of them were acquitted. These were more the people who
were seen as being on the edges of the group.

Not so much that core consultative group which we spoke about a few times. These were the people
who were more on the outskirts of it. They were caught up in a couple of conversations.

As we said before, most of the evidence in this case was telephone intercepts secretly recorded
telephone conversations or bugged conversations involving many of the accused.

But some of the accused were only involved in maybe one or two of those conversations. One of those
was Abdullah Merhi. He was found, he was actually found not guilty of providing resources to a
terrorist organisation but at the same time was found guilty of being a member of a terrorist
organisation.

At the time of the offences he was only about 18 years old. He was the one that the prosecution was
claiming had offered himself up as a suicide bomber for the group. The others... sorry Eleanor?

ELEANOR HALL: I was going to say about the other two accused. Why has the jury found it difficult
to reach a verdict on them?

ALISON CALDWELL: Yes, well the other two. We are talking about Shane Kent. He is the man who became
a Muslim later in life. They have not yet been able to reach a verdict on whether or not he is a
member of a terrorist organisation. That is the only charge he is facing.

With the other gentlemen, Amer Haddara, Amer Haddara has been found, they can't decide yet on
whether or not he was a member or whether or not he was providing resources to a terrorist
organisation.

So what the jury has been told is go back, continue your deliberations with those men but in the
meantime at least we have verdicts in most of the cases.

With the men who were found not guilty, they were released immediately. They were very relieved.
They smiled. They hugged each other. Everyone stood up. All of the accused stood up and hugged each
of those men who were now allowed to leave and resume their lives.

ELEANOR HALL: And what of Abdul Nacer Benbrika? What does he now face in terms of a jail sentence.

ALISON CALDWELL: Yes, Abdul Nacer Benbrika could face anywhere up to, gosh, 25 years.

Being a member of a terrorist organisation which is fostering a terrorist act itself could bring 10
years prison. Possessing a thing, a compact disc could bring 15 years in prison. Directing the
activities of the organisation could bring 25 years in prison but no doubt, Eleanor there will be
appeals in this case.

It was a long trial. The jury was having to consider 27 different verdicts. It was essentially 27
different trials and there were a number of issues that came up throughout the trial which could
become points of appeal.

ELEANOR HALL: Alison Caldwell at the court in Melbourne, thank you.