The wife of a convicted recruiter for the terror group ISIS failed to appear in the court where she has been charged with disrespectful behavior in court under an Australian law.
Moutia Elzahed, the second wife of Hamdi Alqudsi, was due in court to answer charges stemming from her refusal to stand for a District Court judge last December, but her counsel told the court she was “unwell,” and unable to attend.
District Court Judge Audrey Balla ordered the attorney, Zali Burrows, to present a signed medical certificate to support the claim.
The Muslim woman was in court for a hearing on her suit against state and federal police who conducted an over a counter-terrorism raid in the family home.
Elzahed accused the police of assaulting her during the raid by hitting her in the head and calling her a derogatory name.
She also asserted that the police had “slammed” her son into a cupboard.
But when she appeared for a hearing, she presented herself to the court completely covered, head to toe, including a full facial covering and refused to stand when Judge Balla entered the courtroom, as is standard in Australian courts, as it is in the United States.
Burrows informed the court that Elzahed “only stands for Allah.”
She also refused to remove the veil that completely covered her face when testifying in court.
Judge Balla explained the necessity of seeing the face and the facial expressions of a witness during testimony because “the demeanor of a witness and the viewing of their face” is necessary to assess the credibility of their testimony.
In deference to Elzahed’s Muslim faith, the judge provided her with options to preserve her modesty, including testifying outside the courtroom or closing the court to everyone except attorneys.
But Elzahed refused either option, leaving the judge no choice but to dismiss the case because she could not get Elzahed’s version of the events that formed the basis of the suit.
Elzahed was not charged with contempt of court, but under the new law that prohibits “disrespecting the court” instead.
A conviction carries a fine of $1100 or two weeks in jail.
Although she has not entered a plea, Elzahed, whose husband is serving six years in prison for recruiting for ISIS, told reporters she had “done nothing wrong.”
In the meantime, her attorney informed the court she is considering filing a constitutional challenge on behalf of her client in Australia’s High Court.
Elzahed is due in court in July to enter a plea in the case.
Her attorney did not speculate as to whether Elzahed will be well enough to appear.
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