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Australian terrorist trials face lengthy delays

Australian terrorist trials face lengthy delays

Source: World Socialist Web Site

By Mike Head
12 January 2006

It is now more than two months since the largest joint federal-state police raids in Australian history resulted in the arrest of 20 Islamic men in Sydney and Melbourne. The heavily-publicised arrests were followed by lurid claims by government leaders, police chiefs and the media that the raids had prevented an imminent and “catastrophic” terrorist attack.

The November 8 operation bore all the hallmarks of a politically-motivated campaign to whip up new fears of terrorism and justify the introduction of police-state measures. These were contained in anti-terrorism bills that were being pushed through federal and state parliaments on a bipartisan basis by Prime Minister John Howard’s Liberal-National Coalition government and the state and territory Labor governments.

The raids were launched less than a week after Howard had declared a terrorist “alert” and convened an emergency session of the Senate to pass the first instalment of the new legislation, which allowed the police to arrest anyone on terrorist charges without having to prove that any specific terrorist act was being prepared.

The dramatic arrests came amid mounting public scepticism and opposition to the central provisions of the anti-terrorism bills, which proposed sweeping powers of detention without any charge or trial at all, including house arrests for up to a year at a time. They also outlawed “advocacy” of terrorism and expanded sedition to include voicing political support for groups resisting Australian military interventions.

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