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Theophanous committal verdict nears -

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PETER CAVE: Victoria's former Industry Minister Theo Theophanous will soon learn if he's committed
to stand trial for the rape of a female friend in his parliamentary chambers in 1998.

The defence and prosecution counsels have finished their closing submissions and the magistrate
will hand down his decision after lunch.

Rachael Brown has been covering the committal hearing from the Melbourne Magistrate's Court.

Rachael, the defence counsel has now summed up this case as a farce?

RACHAEL BROWN: Yes, Robert Richter QC said if it didn't have such tragic consequences as to make a
minister of the Crown stand down while it was investigated, it would make a comedy farce on
television.

Mr Richter described it as the wholesale destruction of a career. He accused police of having a
zeal to get the Minister removed from office and of swallowing a lie that demeaned genuine rape
victims.

Mr Richter has admitted the woman did tour Parliament with the Minister at some time but he says
she was delusional, a fantasist who made the whole thing up after a breakdown, that she was just
after justice in the form of dollars to finance her addiction to prescription medication, that she
pressured friends into giving false evidence and fabricated emails and letters to support her line
that her friends knew of the attack on that night.

Mr Richter said we have perjury on perjury upon perjury upon attempt to pervert the course of
justice and he thinks there is no way a reasonable jury could convict.

Now he said she is a damaged person and that she does deserve sympathy but he says this is a court
of law and the kindest thing for all involved would be for the magistrate to dismiss the charge.

PETER CAVE: I suppose it's no surprise to anyone that the prosecution remain adamant that there is
sufficient evidence for a conviction?

RACHAEL BROWN: Well the prosecutor Michelle Williams SC has said it was absolutely scurrilous for
Mr Richter to suggest the complainant was delusional and made the whole thing up.

She said the complainant was under heated cross examination for five days and she stuck to her
story. She says telephone records verify that the woman did make calls to her friends the night of
the alleged rape and that they met each other before giving their police statements so suggesting
there may have been some collusion there.

The prosecutor said the telephone records also prove that despite Mr Theophanous' driver dropping
him home at 6pm that night that he did return to the city.

And the prosecution says Mr Theophanous doesn't deserve special treatment just because he is an MP.
He should be treated the same as any other citizen.

PETER CAVE: So when will Mr Theophanous know whether or not he is going to face trial or not?

RACHAEL BROWN: That will happen later this afternoon.

Now of course if he is not committed and the police want to press on there is the option that the
OPP could decide to directly present him for trial.

Now today will end day 15 of what was supposed to be a seven day committal - one that has provided
some theatre Peter.

There's been outbursts from Theophanous who has been told by the magistrate, it's not Parliament,
you can't just yell out when you like. There's been sniggers from his wife who has been told to be
quiet in court. We even saw a talk to the hand gesture from the prosecutor to the defence team. I
felt like I was watching an episode of Ricky Lake.

So it has been eventful and there will be some significant political ramifications of today's
decision.

Mr Theophanous has put his hand up for pre-selection for next year's Novemember state election and
if he is committed he could be looking at a trial before then so clearly not something Labor would
want on voters' minds.

But some say even exoneration, even if he is cleared this afternoon it might be too late to save
his renomination chances.

Factional leaders think this case has taken its toll and that politically Mr Theophanous is damaged
goods.

PETER CAVE: Rachael Brown and I suspect it's not the last time we will be discussing that
particular case.