In defence of rights
WELL- KNOWN Tasmanian barrister and Mercury columnist Greg Barns will feature in the SBS documentary The Trial on Tuesday night.
The Trial is the inside story of the 2005 case involving the arrest of 12 Muslim men in Melbourne.
All were charged under Australia’s anti- terror laws that were introduced following an escalation in terrorist attacks worldwide.
With unparalleled behind- the- scenes access, the program follows Barns ( pictured), solicitor Robert Stary and a large legal team as they battle to defend clients accused of being members of a terrorist organisation.
During the lengthy case, which began in February 2008, until the delivery of the verdicts in September 2008, jurors were presented with evidence including 482 covertly recorded conversations from police telephone intercepts and listening devices.
They also heard testimonies from 50 witnesses and considered weeks of defence arguments.
All 12 of the accused pleaded not guilty. Two of the men, Ezzit Raad and Abdullah Merhi, were also charged with providing a terrorist organisation with resources and faced possible sentences of up to 35 years in jail.
Abdullah Merhi was also accused of preparing to be Australia’s first suicide bomber.
The Trial explores the story of those accused, told through their legal team and their relatives, whose lives were turned upside down as they lived with the impact of the trial, and dealt with media scrutiny and the backlash from the community.