The self-described second ‘wife’ of a convicted Islamic State terrorist recruiter who refused to reveal her face in court and remained seated before the judge has lost her lawsuit over a police counter-terrorism raid.
Moutia Elzahed alleged police assault and brutality during an early morning counter-terrorism raid at her home in southwest Sydney, Australia, in September 2014. Presiding District Judge Audrey Balla threw out all six brutality claims on Thursday, according to the Sydney Daily Telegraph.
The judgement came after a six-day hearing in which Elzahed caused controversy by refusing to remove her burqa when facing the court and the judge. Elzahed said she would only reveal her face if the men in the court looked away. She may now face a criminal charge of disrespecting the court after refusing to rise for Judge Balla because it was, she claimed, against her Muslim faith.
Lead plaintiff Elzahed claimed she was punched by police and called a “bitch” when Australian Federal Police and NSW Police officers entered her house and ripped her blanket from her at 4.30am as part of a police counter-terror investigation.
She further alleged she was handcuffed in an aggressive manner, screamed at and humiliated.
In her judgement, Judge Balla found in favour of police, arguing officers used reasonable force, adding Elzahed provided no direct evidence of her claims as she would not take the stand.
Judge Balla wrote in her judgment that: “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 courtroom closed so that only the lawyers involved in the proceedings would be in the courtroom.
“I refused to permit her to give evidence with her face covered. Accordingly there is no direct evidence from Ms Elzahed.”
Claims of brutality brought by her sons Hamzah and Abdulla George, 16, were also dismissed.
One son claimed to have been “pushed down on the floor with violence” and then handcuffed “in an aggressive manner injuring his arms and wrists”.
The other son alleged he was slammed into a cupboard and still has marks on his stomach.
Alqudsi, Elzahed’s husband, was sentenced to a minimum of six years’ jail earlier this year for helping young Australians travel to Syria to fight in the country’s civil war.