Courts still soft on Muslims

Changing the law has apparently changed nothing. News report below:

The NSW government wants the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal against bail decisions handed down today to seven of nine people arrested in connection with Sydney's Cronulla riot and retaliatory attacks. Eight [Muslim] males, aged between 16 and 21, were arrested early today in relation to "violent and anti-social behaviour" at the beachside suburb of Maroubra on December 11. They were allegedly in a convoy of cars, carrying people of Middle Eastern appearance, that drove from Punchbowl Park to Maroubra after 8.30pm for revenge attacks following rioting in Cronulla earlier the same day.

Police later said a man was also arrested in connection with the Cronulla riot, in which people of Middle Eastern descent were chased and attacked.

More than 50 officers from Strike Force Enoggera this morning went to 10 homes simultaneously in Yagoona, Riverwood, Punchbowl, Greenacre and Bankstown in Sydney's west. All eight arrested in that operation, including four juveniles, were charged with riot and affray. Seven of the eight were today bailed when they appeared in Sydney magistrates and children's courts, despite new emergency laws which introduced a presumption against bail in such cases. One of the youths refused bail was a 15 year-old when he allegedly drove one of the cars to Maroubra, and faces a charge of unlicensed driving as well as the charge of riot and affray.

The convoy of cars is alleged to have carried people armed with baseball bats and iron bars, who smashed more than 50 vehicles on Malabar Rd and Marine Parade and attacked and threatened bystanders.

Police Minister Carl Scully today asked NSW police to consider asking the Director of Public Prosecutions to appeal the bail decisions. "I'm disgusted by the leniency of the courts in granting bail in these cases today," Mr Scully said. "They do not appear to have received the strong message which we sent on behalf of the community when we recalled parliament last December to make it harder to get bail for these types of offences. "These are very serious offences which would warrant people being locked up pending their trials. "Accordingly, I have requested the commissioner (of police) lodge an application with the DPP for appeals against these unjustifiable decisions.

Police had earlier announced they would ask the DPP to appeal a sentence handed down yesterday to a Sydney teenager convicted of rioting. Geoffrey John Atkinson, 18, who bashed a man with a beer bottle during the Cronulla riot, spent 29 days in jail before he walked free from Sutherland Local Court yesterday. Magistrate William Brydon sentenced Atkinson to nine months in prison with a non-parole period of a month, and allowed him to go because the non-parole period expired yesterday. Atkinson, of Elderslie in Sydney's south, was caught on camera bashing Safi Merhi repeatedly with a beer bottle as others kicked and punched the victim. He was the first person to be sentenced following the mob violence on December 11 at Cronulla and subsequent revenge attacks. Police issued a statement saying they would refer a request to the DPP to appeal Atkinson's sentence.

Following today's raids, Mr Scully praised police for their work in the aftermath of the Cronulla riot and said criticism of officers must stop. "(Liberals leader) Peter Debnam had better stop being an armchair general and let the cops do their work like they have been doing," he said. But Mr Debnam said there had been no headway in rounding up those involved in revenge attacks. "Until the government gets all those thugs locked up, I'll just keep raising this issue every single day," he said.



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