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Australia SA woman's terror conviction overturned

12:30  31 october  2019
12:30  31 october  2019 Source:   msn.com

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A South Australian woman who was convicted of being a member of the Islamic State terror group has had her conviction overturned on appeal. Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif was convicted of being a member of a terror group by a jury following a trial last year. The verdict was overturned and set

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The first South Australian to be convicted of terrorism offences has had her guilty verdict overturned, in a judgment that calls into question federal terrorism laws.

Zainab Abdirahman-Khalif, 24, was found guilty of being a member of the Islamic State terror group following a jury trial last year.

But the verdict was set aside and she was acquitted by Chief Justice Chris Kourakis and Justice Greg Parker in a Court of Criminal Appeal majority decision on Thursday.

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The pair said while commonwealth prosecutors had proven Ms Abdirahman-Khalif was a supporter of IS and planned to travel to Syria to make contact with members, no evidence had been presented about the group's membership processes.

Therefore it was not possible to prove a connection between her actions, communications, pledge of allegiance and travel plans with formal or informal IS membership.

In his reasons for allowing the appeal, Justice Kourakis said federal regulations flowing from the criminal code used to prosecute Ms Abdirahman-Khalif could not proclaim as a terrorist organisation an entire society or population governed by a particular organisation.

"On a proper construction of the regulation, it prescribes the organisation, in a narrow sense, known as Islamic State and not the residents, even supportive residents, of the territory it controls," he said

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A South Australian woman has been granted leave to appeal her conviction on being a member of terror group During the September trial, jurors heard Abdirahman-Khalif had been communicating online with three young women and knew about their deadly terror attack on a police station in Kenya

"It follows that the appellant's conviction cannot be supported on the evidence and a verdict of not guilty must be entered."

In a dissenting opinion, Justice Patricia Kelly said she would have dismissed the appeal, arguing the term "member" should be given any technical or legal meaning.

"A terrorist organisation such as Islamic State, given its very nature, is unlikely to have a membership process capable of objective verification," she said.

Ms Abdirahman-Khalif, who has spent two years and five months behind bars, cried and hugged relatives after she was released from the dock.

She made no comment as she left court with supporters but her lawyer, James Caldicott, said "emotions were running very high".

"She's grateful, particularly now that it's over and the ordeal is over, but it's more just about spending time with her friends and family and reconnecting with the community," he said.

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A South Australian woman has been granted leave to appeal her conviction on being a member of terror group Islamic State.

"She's very much enjoying seeing her friends and family ."

Ms Abdirahman-Khalif, a former nursing student, was stopped by police at Adelaide Airport while trying to board a plane to Istanbul in July 2016.

She told officers she was taking a last-minute holiday, despite having a small amount of clothing, no return flight and less than $200 in funds.

The Somalian refugee was later released but arrested at the Port Adelaide TAFE SA campus in May 2017, following a lengthy police investigation.

In sentencing her earlier this year, Justice David Peek said Ms Abdirahman-Khalif had repeatedly expressed support for IS and jihad by playing chants about martyrdom, infidels, extreme violence, killing and death.

He said while she was in continuous contact with group members, including three women who carried out a deadly attack at a Kenyan police station, she was not involved in performing violent acts of terrorism.

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