Twins’ ter­ror case linked to for­eign crime

State seeks more time for in­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tion

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - ILANIT CHERNICK

TER­ROR-AC­CUSED twins Bran­don-Lee and TonyLee Thulsie could face sev­eral more months in jail be­fore their case goes to trial.

State pros­e­cu­tor Chris MacA­dam told the Jo­han­nes­burg Mag­is­trate’s Court yes­ter­day that re­cent ar­rests made in Kenya and Bri­tain were be­lieved to be re­lated to the Thulsie case, prompt­ing them to ask for a lengthy post­pone­ment.

Clad in black head­scarves and jack­ets, the twins were ush­ered into the dock, steal­ing looks at their fam­ily with smiles on their faces. Fam­ily mem­bers and friends blew kisses at the boys, who in turn winked and pulled thumbs-ups.

When the boys turned their heads to face the mag­is­trate, their mother Wasiela burst into tears, rocking back­wards and for­wards, her head in her hands.

As pro­ceed­ings be­gan, MacA­dam said they had been in­formed about the over­seas ar­rests after the twins’ last court ap­pear­ance in Novem­ber last year. He ap­pealed to Mag­is­trate Pi­eter du Plessis for an April post­pone­ment to fi­nalise their in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“We will be fin­ished with our in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the end of March, and it will be fi­nalised by the end of April.

“The State was un­aware of the in­volve­ment of for­eign coun­tries when it ar­rested the twins in July 2016,” he said.

MacA­dam said he knew that it was un­usual to ask for such a long post­pone­ment but ex­plained that it was nec­es­sary to do so to gather the rel­e­vant ev­i­dence. “The ma­jor is­sue re­lates to se­cur­ing ev­i­dence from a num­ber of in­ter­na­tional states. It’s an in­ter­na­tional mat­ter,” he said.

He claimed that he needed to ob­tain fur­ther ev­i­dence from other coun­tries in­clud­ing the US‚ Tur­key and Syria.

“The NPA and SA Po­lice Ser­vice will meet with US au­thor­i­ties at the end of March to dis­cuss ev­i­dence un­earthed in their un­der­cover op­er­a­tion and in­ves­ti­ga­tion, which is also rel­e­vant to this case,” MacA­dam added.

Al­though the boys seemed con­fi­dent and re­laxed, one was seen fer­vently bit­ing his nails dur­ing pro­ceed­ings.

De­fence ad­vo­cate An­ne­lene van den Heever ve­he­mently op­posed the ap­pli­ca­tion by the State‚ ar­gu­ing that it lacked par­tic­u­lar­ity and that the state had had more than enough time to gather its ev­i­dence from for­eign coun­tries.

She said the State’s rea­sons for post­pone­ment were “wishy­washy” and “airy-fairy”, for which she was rep­ri­manded.

“The court can­not rely on spec­u­la­tion. The State needs to take this court into its con­fi­dence and ex­plain if process is be­ing fol­lowed and how long it will take to gather this ev­i­dence,” she said

The mag­is­trate in­ter­rupted her, ex­plain­ing that the State did give a time­line.

“Through­out the whole thing they have said their in­ves­ti­ga­tions will be com­plete by the end of March.”

Van den Heever then went on to ques­tion how this new ev­i­dence be­ing ob­tained would fit into the State’s case. “What’s the rel­e­vance of get­ting such in­for­ma­tion from for­eign gov­ern­ments?”

Mag­is­trate du Plessis de­cided to post­pone the case to Fri­day when fur­ther ar­gu­ments will be heard in re­sponse to the State’s re­quest to post­pone the mat­ter.

PIC­TURE: FACE­BOOK

TWINS: Bran­don-Lee and TonyLee Thulsie face ter­ror-re­lated charges for try­ing to join Is­lamic State in 2015 and plan­ning to bomb US and Jewish in­sti­tu­tions in South Africa.

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