Wife of IS recruiter stands for judge
THE first person in NSW to be charged over refusing to stand before a judge on religious grounds has stood for a Sydney magistrate.
Moutia Elzahed, the wife of terrorist recruiter Hamdi Alqudsi, allegedly failed to stand for District Court judge Audrey Balla multiple times in November and December 2016, saying she only stood for Allah.
But the Muslim woman stood for magistrate Carolyn Huntsman at Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, where she is charged with disrespectful behaviour in court.
The 49-year-old had unsuccessfully sued the state and federal governments for alleged police violence during a terrorism raid on her Sydney house, but has been given the green light to appeal.
Ms Elzahed's lawyer says the current case raises several constitutional, jurisdictional and identity issues, and challenged the validity of how the charges were laid.
Defence barrister David Hume said the NSW attorney-general referred the matter to the solicitor-general, which effectively interfered with the judiciary.
"When the executive starts coming along and deciding when and how behaviour in the courtroom should be regarded, that presents a grave risk of conflict between two different branches of government," he said.
Mr Hume also said Solicitor-General Michael Sexton SC didn't consider whether the case was appropriate, desirable and in the public interest. The magistrate has temporarily adjourned the hearing while she considers submissions.
Six witnesses are expected to testify over the three-day hearing, where CCTV footage and transcripts are expected to be tendered as evidence.
Last December the Australian National Imams Council said Islamic defendants have no faith-based reason not to stand before a judge or uncover their faces while giving testimony.