Crown casino bomb plotter Abdul Nacer Benbrika stripped of Australian citizenship25th November 2020
Benbrika’s lawyers are fighting the government’s push for further jail time and argue he has served his sentence. He has been in custody since his 2005 arrest and was formally sentenced in 2009.
At a directions hearing on Wednesday before next week’s trial, the Supreme Court heard the government had cancelled Benbrika’s citizenship, which means if he is released from prison he will be transferred to immigration detention and eventually deported to his native Algeria.
However, Rowena Orr, QC, acting for the Home Affairs Department, said cancelling Benbrika’s citizenship was not the most effective way to reduce the risk he posed, as it was possible he could be deported and then commit further offending in Algeria, without the supervision of Australian authorities.
A continued detention order and more time in jail was the only way to address the risk he posed, Ms Orr said.
Benbrika’s lawyer, Brian Walters, QC, said it was a concern how the government had deployed its powers.
Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton confirmed he cancelled Benbrika’s citizenship last Friday.
“My concern is to keep Australians safe, so in this instance he spoke about thousands of Australians being killed, that’s what he advocated at the time,” Mr Dutton said. “It doesn’t matter who it is, if it’s a person that’s posing a significant terrorist threat to our country, we will do whatever is possible within Australian law to protect Australians.”
Mr Dutton labelled the operation that led to Benbrika’s arrest as “the most significant counter-terrorism investigation in Australian history” that saved “countless lives”.
Twenty other dual nationals have previously lost their Australian citizenship over terrorism offences, but none were in the country at the time.
Benbrika was scheduled to be released from prison this month but he remains in custody after Justice Andrew Tinney granted an interim detention order until the conclusion of the trial.
Justice Tinney will hear the trial from Monday. It is expected to run for five days.
At Benbrika’s 2008 criminal trial, the court heard he and six followers discussed launching terror attacks against Crown casino during the grand prix weekend and the MCG during the AFL grand final. His guilty verdict in 2008 meant he was the first Australian convicted of leading a terrorist group.
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