THE second “wife” of a convicted Islamic State terrorist and her family is facing a legal bill of up to $100,000 after they lost their lawsuit against police over a counter-terrorism raid.
Moutia Elzahed’s lawsuit against police was thrown out by District Judge Audrey Balla this morning following a six-day hearing in which she caused controversy by refusing to remove her veil and could face a criminal charge after also refusing to stand because it was against her Muslim faith.
Ms Elzahed, who was the lead plaintiff, was not at Sydney District Court when Judge Balla found in favour of police dismissing all six claims of police brutality over the Operation Appleby counter-terrorism raid on her Revesby home which she shares with husband Hamdi Alqudsi and her two teenage sons.
Ms Elzahed claimed she was punched by police and called a “bitch” when officers entered her bedroom and pulled her blanket from her at 4.30am on September 18, 2014. She also claimed she was handcuffed in an aggressive manner, screamed at and humiliated.
In her judgment Judge Balla found in favour of police, in part, because Ms Elzahed provided no direct evidence of her claims as she would not take the stand.
“Ms Elzahed is a religious Muslim and she refused to give evidence in open court with her face uncovered. She also refused to give evidence from a remote room with her face uncovered (so that she could choose not to see who was watching her give evidence) with the court room closed so that only lawyers involved in the proceedings would be in the court room,’ Judge Balla said in her judgement. ‘I refused to permit her to give evidence with her face covered. Accordingly there is no direct evidence from Ms Elzahed.’
Ms Elzahed insisted she would only show her face if the other men in the room looked away. Judge Balla argued she would have difficulty hearing evidence because the veil would mask her ‘demeanour’.
Alqudsi and her eldest son Hamza George, 17, gave evidence that Ms Elzahed told them she had been punched in the head by police but because neither of them were in the bedroom at the time Judge Balla dismissed their accounts as “hearsay”
She also found their evidence “unreliable” noting that Alqudsi claimed his wife’s face was red when she was brought into the lounge room from the bedroom, but under cross-examination he admitted that, in fact, he could not see her face because she was wearing a niqab that only revealed her eyes.
Alqudsi and her two sons Hamzah and Abdulla George, 17 and 16, joined the lawsuit claiming they were also assaulted during the raid. But Judge Balla dismissed their claims as well finding in favour of the police evidence.
Ms Elzahed is now being investigated by the NSW Solicitor General for a possible charge under a new disrespectful behaviour in court law because she consistently refused to stand for Judge Balla throughout the proceedings. When Judge Balla asked why she would not stand her barrister Clive Evatt said, When asked why, Ms Elzahed’s barrister Clive Evatt said: ‘She’s a Muslim, Your Honour, a strict Muslim and according to my instructions she won’t stand for anyone except Allah which I’m not particularly happy with, Your Honour’.
If Ms Elzahed is charged she would be the first person to be prosecuted under the NSW law which was brought in after a number of high-profile cases where radical Muslims refused to stand for judicial officers. The offence went into force on September 1 and carries a maximum penalty of up to 14 days in prison or a fine of up to $1,100 if a person is found guilty.