Thursday, February 24, 2005

Archival Rescue 11 ~ Outsourcing Detention

Khazal bailed in Sydney, jailed in Lebanon
February 24, 2005 - 7:14PM

A former Qantas baggage handler awaiting trial in Sydney on terrorism charges has been sentenced in absentia to 15 years' jail in Lebanon for terror-related activities.

Former Qantas worker Bilal Khazal was sentenced by a Lebanese military court overnight for forging an Australian passport, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said.

It was the second time Khazal had been convicted in absentia in Beirut, Mr Ruddock said.

Khazal was found guilty of forging a passport for fellow Australian citizen Saleh Jamal, who was sentenced overnight to five years' jail in Lebanon on terrorist-related charges, Mr Ruddock said.

Jamal is wanted by NSW police over the 1998 drive-by shooting of a Sydney police station.

A third Australian, Lebanese-born Hayssam Melhem, was sentenced to one year in jail overnight as part of the same case, Reuters reported.

Khazal, from Lakemba in Sydney's south-west, is currently on bail facing unrelated charges under Australian law of knowingly collecting or making documents connected with terrorism.

Lebanon has requested his extradition from Australia but Mr Ruddock said the request would not be considered until Khazal had been tried in an Australian court.

Khazal will face committal proceedings in June.

"This is the second occasion in which he has been convicted in absentia in Lebanon," Mr Ruddock told reporters.

"On this occasion, subsequent to the first penalty of 10 years penal servitude, he has been convicted and sentenced to a further 15 years' jail associated with the issues of ... arranging for the documentation in relation to Jamal's travel to Lebanon and presumably facilitating his presence there.

"In the case of Mr Khazal there has been a request by Lebanese authorities for his extradition. That's still being processed.

"Obviously, in the meantime, he had been the subject of charges here and he would not be free to be extradited under any arrangements until the issues that need to be resolved before our courts have been completed."

Khazal's lawyer Adam Houda said it would be a joke if Australia considered the extradition request, as it knew evidence was forced out of witnesses.

"He knows he's got no hope of getting an extradition," Mr Houda said.

"We have the transcripts of people giving evidence against Khazal while they admitted being tortured.

"It's an absolute joke and for the government to even take it seriously, it's shameful and typical of this government."

Mr Ruddock said Australia would try to extradite Jordanian-born Jamal over the Lakemba police station shooting when his five-year jail sentence had been served.

Jamal, 29, was convicted in Beirut on charges of possessing weapons and explosives, forging an Australian passport, forming a group and planning acts that endangered state security.

Jamal fled Australia on a fake passport last March while on bail for alleged involvement in the attack on the Lakemba police station.

"NSW authorities have issued documentation seeking his apprehension," Mr Ruddock said.

"That documentation is with authorities in Lebanon.

"Obviously, the arrest warrant is something we would seek to execute but it would only really be possible when the sentence has been served."

Mr Ruddock said he had received no evidence Jamal had been planning a terrorist attack in Australia.

He indicated Australian authorities could use evidence from the Lebanese investigation into Jamal to help their case against Khazal, who has been charged under federal laws with knowingly collecting or making documents connected with terrorism.

Australian Federal Police allege the document, published on the internet, included a list of countries Khazal considered "the enemy" and encouraged the killing of infidels.

If Khazal was cleared of charges in Australia, Mr Ruddock said Lebanon's extradition request would be processed in the normal way.



Post a Comment

<< Home