Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 12:09 pm (KSA) 09:09 am (GMT)

Australia's 'Jihad Jack' to face re-trial

Thomas was freed in 2006 (Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald)
Thomas was freed in 2006 (Courtesy Sydney Morning Herald)

An Australian terrorism suspect whose conviction was overturned in 2006 was ordered to stand trial again Monday for allegedly receiving money from al-Qaeda and possessing a false passport.

The Victoria state Court of Appeal ordered the retrial after prosecutors said they had new evidence about former Melbourne taxi driver Jack Thomas' -- dubbed Jihad Jack -- alleged links to al-Qaeda.

Thomas, a Muslim convert, was jailed in February 2006 after being convicted of accepting 3,500 U.S. dollars in cash and an air ticket home from a senior Al-Qaeda operative in Pakistan.

Prosecutors had alleged that the 35-year-old trained at al-Qaeda bases in Afghanistan before its Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S. and then stayed in safe houses frequented by al-Qaeda operatives after moving to Pakistan in 2002.

But the conviction was quashed six months later when an appeal court ruled that an interview carried out by Australian police while he was in custody in Pakistan was inadmissible.

Prosecutors successfully sought a retrial, arguing that an interview Thomas gave to public broadcaster the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) amounted to new evidence in the case.

Thomas' lawyers argued that investigators knew about the ABC interview before the first trial and it did not warrant a retrial, but the appeal court rejected the argument.

Thomas' defense told the original trial that he accepted the money and plane ticket simply because he wanted to return to his family and he had no intention of becoming an al-Qaeda operative.

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