Man on trial for sending letters to fallen soldiers of military families
San Francisco, CA -- (SBWIRE) -- 10/09/2012 -- Currently on trial for allegedly sending offensive letters to families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan, Man Haron Monis, also known as Sheikh Haron, is seeking to reverse multiple indictments against him.
The High Court accuses Monis of using the postal service to express his political views of Australia’s participation in Afghanistan and offending families of deceased diggers and relatives of a trade official killed as the result of a bombing in Jakarta, Indonesia.
In his defense, lawyers for Mr. Monis stated their client’s rights have been infringed upon and the section of the Commonwealth Criminal Code associated with the indictments is an infringement of constitutional freedom of political communication.
In question is Mr. Monis motives in addressing grieving families instead of contacting politicians. Defense lawyers insist it is not criminal to wound a person’s feelings, but Chief Justice Robert French has stated the context of the letters could be viewed as offensive as they were sent to the military families and relatives of terrorist victims.
One such letter blamed the Australian nation for the 2009 Indonesia bombing because it neglected to recognize the “oppressive behaviour” of the government overseas. David Bennett, QC, told the court that Mr. Monis would have likely had the support of the soldiers families had they seen his side of the story, providing a strong voice of advocacy.
Monis letters were no different from receiving an upsetting bill or letter of demand. Only if the motive was to provoke an unlawful act should it be punishable by law. Under section 471.12 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, a person is guilty of an offence if they use the postal service “in a way that reasonable persons would regard as being, in all the circumstances, menacing, harassing or offensive”.
As the hearing continues, Justice Susan Kiefel questions whether the objective of the law goes too far without appropriate safeguards for political communication protection.
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