A judge in Australia has denied to hear evidence from the wife of an Islamic extremist after she refused to remove the veil of her burqa despite being offered alternative options.
Moutia Elzahed, one of the two women married to convicted criminal and Islamic extremist Hamdi Alqudsi, is suing the police alleging they punched her and called her a “bitch” during the Operation Apple by terrorism raids at her Revesby home in south-west of the Sydney on September 18, 2014.
In what is believed to be an Australian first in a civil case, that New South Wales (NSW) District Court judge Audrey Balla would not let Elzahed take the stand unless she took off her veil this week, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Elzahed refused to take off her burqa and she failed to turn up to the fourth day on November 30 of the hearing. Her lawyer Clive Evatt said, for religious reasons, his client could not show her face to any man.
Judge Balla gave Elzahed a choice; she could have the court closed while she gave evidence or she could give evidence via video link. But Evatt declined both options on his client’s behalf because the mostly male lawyers on both sides would still be in court and would see her face.
Dressed in long robes, scarf and veil, Elzahed also refused to stand for Judge Balla when she entered and left the court.
Elzahed’s refusal to take off the veil is a blow to her case, which relied on her sworn testimony that she was punched by police during the dawn raid. She is seeking financial compensation for “assault and battery, wrongful arrest and false imprisonment and intimidation”.
She is joined in the lawsuit by her husband Hamdi Alqudsi and sons Hamza George, 17, and Abdulla George, 17. Since the raid Alqudsi has been convicted of helping seven men travel to Syria to fight with Islamist rebels. He is serving a sentence of eight years with a non-parole period of six years.
Outside of court Elzahed said “it is not fair” that she could not give evidence.
The federal and state governments, acting on behalf of Federal and NSW police, deny all allegations of police brutality, arguing officers used only reasonable force.