Nauru: first two asylum seekers found guilty of riot are sentenced to jail

5 June: The first two asylum seekers convicted of rioting at the Nauru detention centre have been sentenced to jail.

In July 2013, asylum seekers torched the centre, causing $60m worth of damage. Newly built accommodation blocks, the health centre, offices, the dining room and vehicles were burnt. Only the kitchen and recreation facility remained standing.

Sixty-three asylum seekers face criminal charges stemming from the riots.

On Thursday the Nauru magistrate Ropate Cabealawa sentenced one asylum seeker to two years and five months in jail for unlawful assembly and rioting convictions. The second asylum seeker, convicted of rioting, will serve 11 months at the Nauru correctional centre. Continue reading “Nauru: first two asylum seekers found guilty of riot are sentenced to jail”

Sydney: Charge dismissed for UTS flare holder

3 June: A university student charged for holding a flare during last month’s heated budget protest rally in Sydney has been let off the hook, with a court instead labelling him a good Samaritan.

University of Technology, Sydney, pharmacy student Mohammad Baqir Jaafar was arrested on May 21 as he marched in the city with other students, student unionists and academics.

The 1000-strong crowd were protesting against the federal government’s proposed cuts to university funding announced in the May 13 budget, when some protesters clashed with police.

Officers pounced on Jaafar and bundled him to the ground after they spotted him holding the flare aloft. Continue reading “Sydney: Charge dismissed for UTS flare holder”

Sydney: Riot squad called to courtroom brawl involving family charged with assaulting police

15 April: The riot squad has been called to a Sydney courtroom to deal with a brawl between police and members of a family facing charges for assaulting police.

Five members of the Mehanna family were facing Downing Centre Local Court in central Sydney over charges of affray and assaulting police on New Year’s Day in 2013 at their Bankstown home.

Witnesses said that shortly after the lunch adjournment one of the Mehanna brothers struck a police officer, starting a courtroom brawl that involved more than 30 officers.

But Ali Mehanna claims it was police who started the altercation. Continue reading “Sydney: Riot squad called to courtroom brawl involving family charged with assaulting police”

Melbourne: Three more months for prisoners who started $320,000 Metropolitan Remand Centre riot

February 17: Five prisoners who ran wild and caused more than $320,000 damage will serve just three more months behind bars.

The five rioters caused massive damage at the Metropolitan Remand Centre on August 12, 2012. The court heard the five men scaled a wire fence in their unit’s yard before pushing over another fence and entering a prison perimeter referred to as “The Sterile Zone”. Once inside, the men hurled tennis ball-sized rocks at prison guards and smashed security cameras and windows as they rampaged around the prison between a five-metre wall and the wire fence. Two vehicles, security sensors and CCTV wiring were also damaged.

Three prison officers were injured by rocks during the riot, with one officer struck in the eye by shattered glass.

The men — some of whom were armed with sharpened sticks and rods — were subdued hours later by specialised security officers dressed in full riot gear and accompanied by dogs. The court heard the men planned the riot because “the screws were being smart”. Continue reading “Melbourne: Three more months for prisoners who started $320,000 Metropolitan Remand Centre riot”

Nauru: charges dropped over 2012 riot

26 August: Nauru’s Director of Public Prosecutions has dropped its case against 10 asylum seekers charged with staging a riot at the centre in 2012, that caused more than $A25,000 damage.

The asylum seekers were charged with rioting after an incident at the Australian-run processing and detention centre on Nauru last September.

Two Australian-based lawyers, Simon Kenny and Sam Norton, had been providing representation free of charge for five of the defendants.

“It’s an excellent result for those defendants,” Mr Kenny told . “This means for many of them are able to go on with the process of applying for refugee status.”

Mr Kenny said he believed the case collapsed after witnesses were cross-examined. “We took the view…that the evidence that had been led from witnesses was not looking like it was going to support the case against our clients”, he said.

Nauru: no charges yet over riot because identity papers were destroyed

July 23: Nauru’s resident magistrate says the asylum seekers being held over a mass riot at the country’s detention centre have not yet been charged because their identity papers were destroyed by fire.

Most of the Australian-run centre was burnt to the ground on Friday night, at an estimated cost of $60 million.

Magistrate Peter Law says 152 asylum seekers have been been detained and will start facing court tomorrow. He says he has given police more time to prepare charges because it has been difficult to establish the identity of those involved. “I understand their identity papers were destroyed during the course of the fire,” he said.

The riot began on Friday as a peaceful protest over the slow processing of claims.

But a security guard who does not want to be named says protesters took over the centre, gained access to a kitchen, and armed themselves with knives and steel bars. Buildings were burned to the ground, including accommodation blocks, the health centre and the dining room. Continue reading “Nauru: no charges yet over riot because identity papers were destroyed”

Sydney: Jail terms for asylum seekers involved in 2011 riot at the Villawood detention centre

June 28: Four asylum seekers who took part in a violent uprising which caused $9 million in damage to the Villawood detention centre have been jailed for their parts in the 2011 riots.

Serco’s detention centre staff were pelted with roof tiles and threatened with uprooted soccer goalposts as detainees repeatedly chanted “freedom’’ during the wild protests, the Supreme Court heard today.

Several asylum seekers were also heard shouting: “F… Australia, f… immigration, f… Serco”.

Justice Robert Hulme this morning said he accepted the men’s behaviour was born out of “frustration and despair” at being held in the centre, but that didn’t excuse “mob violence”.

“Nobody can question that there is a right to protest, but the use of violence is completely unacceptable,” he said.

The four men, Mohammed Naim Amiri, Taleb Feili, Majid Parhizar and Ali Haidari, were found guilty of rioting during a trial earlier this year in which 12 Iraqi and Afghani asylum seekers were initially accused of the crime.

Justice Hulme today sentenced them to spend a minimum of between 14 and 22 months behind bars, although with time already served the first will be eligible for release in October. Continue reading “Sydney: Jail terms for asylum seekers involved in 2011 riot at the Villawood detention centre”