Three men who planned to commit a terror attack in central Melbourne, and kill as many people as possible with a rifle, have all been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
The trio of Hanifi Halis, Samed Eriklioglu and Ertunc Eriklioglu were sentenced in the County Court today (7 September) after pleading guilty to conspiring to do acts in preparation for a terrorist attack.
The two brothers, and a friend who they met at a multicultural youth centre, were arrested at their homes in Melbourne in November 2018. At that stage they had not carried out an attack.
According to evidence placed before the court, they had already put down a deposit on a semi-automatic rifle that they intended to use in the attack.
Inspired by the Bourke Street terror attack
The court also heard that the trio were inspired by the Bourke Street terror attack in November 2018, in which Hassan Khalif Shire Ali stabbed and killed cafe owner Sisto Malaspina.
They had also discussed travelling overseas to fight for the Islamic state.
Judge O’Connell said it could not be overlooked that the men had contemplated killing multiple members of the community, but agreed with the defence team that there was no way of knowing if the attack would ultimately have gone ahead
“That terrorist act was an action, or threat of action involving an attack on members of the public with a firearm, with the intention of advancing what has been rightly called a ‘depraved and evil ideology’,” the judge said.
Government prioritising threat of terrorism
In response to the sentencing, Minister for Home Affairs, Karen Andrews, said the Government continued to prioritise the threat of terrorism.
“The unfortunate reality is that there are individuals who wish to do us and our way of life harm. Today’s sentencing demonstrates that terrorism remains a threat to our community,” the Minister stated.
“The Morrison Government will continue to take action to protect our community from terrorist threats, including pursuing new legislation to protect Australians from high-risk terrorist offenders following their release from prison.”
She praised the commitment and “exemplary work” of the Victoria Joint Counter Terrorism Team, which comprises Victoria Police, ASIO and the AFP.