Sunday, July 24, 2005

Muslim Gang Rape Trial Begins In Sydney

In the open: rapists' campaign of vicious assaults.

They are probably the most violent, prolific gang rapists Sydney has known, with as many as 18 young victims. But until now the extent of the horrific crimes of four brothers from Pakistan has been kept secret.

Yesterday, more than three years after they went on a six-month rampage, luring girls as young as 13 to their home in Ashfield to rape them, suppression orders forbidding publication of their trial details were lifted.

They still cannot be named because two of the brothers were juveniles, aged 16 and 17, when they committed the first offences. But the crimes of the brothers MSK, MAK, MRK and MMK, and their friend RS, can now be made public.

The brothers, who came to Australia from Pakistan around 2000, had claimed in the face of damning DNA evidence that they were the victims of an anti-Muslim conspiracy.

The eldest brother feigned mental illness, they sacked numerous lawyers and aborted trials to ensure delays as they tried to wear down the victims who had agreed to testify.

Yesterday the Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery, QC, said the brothers took the rules that ensure a fair trial "to their limits" and they "may need to be re-examined to assess whether they are appropriate".

"People from time to time test the operation of these rules. Some people call it game-playing, but if the rules are there to be tested and used, that is a legitimate part of the process," Mr Cowdery said.

"It may be that a view can be taken that the rules are being abused and if that view is being taken it may be time for those rules to be changed."

The rapes of at least eight girls took place mostly in the brothers' Ashfield home between January and July 2002. The girls were invited to a "party", but would arrive at the house, which was strewn with rubbish and plastered with posters of semi-naked girls, to find no other females there.

Some victims were repeatedly raped at knifepoint and told they would be killed if they went to police. The brothers videotaped their rapes, and the tapes show another dozen possible victims. The police have not been able to find them all and some did not want to come forward.

The victims who did make complaints breathed a sigh of relief on Monday, when the oldest brother, MSK, pleaded guilty to the aggravated sexual assault of a 13-year-old girl in July 2002. That spared the victim from having to give evidence and brought the series of trials to an end.

The brutality of the crime, the last to go to trial, was typical. Before raping the girl, MSK told her he had strangled a girlfriend and hung her from a balcony in Iraq - though he was from Pakistan.

In June this year MSK was found guilty of four counts of aggravated sexual assault against a 14-year-old.


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