Three terrorists had their convictions and jail sentences affirmed today in a judgment delivered by the Victorian Court of Appeal.
On 23 December 2010, following a trial which took over 5 months, Mr Wissam Fattal, Mr Saney Aweys and Mr Nayef El Sayed were each found guilty by a Supreme Court jury of conspiring to do acts in preparation for a terrorist act contrary to sections 11.5 and 101.6(1) of the Criminal Code. The terrorist act which was the subject of the conspiracy was an armed attack on the Australian Army Barracks at Holsworthy in New South Wales in which a number of men, armed with high powered firearms, planned to enter the Base and fire at whoever was seen killing as many people as possible. The men had been arrested by State and Federal police on 4 August 2009 as part of a joint police and intelligence investigation known as Operation Neath.
On 16 December 2011 Mr Fattal, Mr Aweys and Mr El Sayed were each sentenced to be imprisoned for 18 years with a non-parole period of 13 years and 6 months. The Commonwealth DPP appealed against the adequacy of these sentences. Mr Fattal, Mr Aweys and Mr El Sayed sought leave to appeal against both conviction and sentence.
Today the Victorian Court of Appeal dismissed both the applications for leave to appeal against conviction and sentence brought by Mr Fattal, Mr Aweys and Mr El Sayed and the CDPP appeals against sentence. The convictions were upheld and sentences imposed at first instance were affirmed.
The CDPP, Mr Robert Bromwich SC, said the Court of Appeal decision confirmed that anyone contemplating involvement in preparing or planning acts of terrorism in Australia will face significant penalties.
“The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions works closely with the State and Federal agencies involved in the investigation and prosecution of terrorism and terrorism-related offences. This matter is an example of the benefits of that cooperation. It resulted in terrorists being investigated, prosecuted and convicted before their acts of terrorism could be carried out.”
The offence of preparing or planning a terrorist act contrary to section 101.6(1) of the Criminal Code carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.