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Illicit CP - February 2013

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Seven News, 28 February 2013

Sydney sharia victim whipped 'out of love'

By Lloyd Jones, AAP

Whip marks on man's back

Four men who took part in the whipping of a Muslim convert to punish him for drinking alcohol and taking drugs have been found guilty of assault.

The Sydney case is believed to be the first in an Australian court relating to such punishment being meted out under the pretext of sharia, or Islamic law.

Christian Martinez, 32, was whipped with an electric cord at his home in Silverwater in Sydney's west between July 16 and 17 in 2011.

His religious mentor, Wasim Fayed, was accused of carrying out the whipping as punishment under sharia, while the other three men held Mr Martinez down on his bed.

Fayed, 44, along with Zakaryah Raad, 21, Tolga Cifki, 21, and Gengiz Coskin, 22, pleaded not guilty to charges of assault occasioning bodily harm in company and stealing.

Raad also faced two charges of intimidation.

In Burwood Local Court on Thursday, Magistrate Brian Maloney found the offences proved.

He noted that the prosecution had stated it was not a case about the Islamic faith but of the imposing of the offenders' views of sharia.

Fayed was the dominant player, having taken on the role of guiding Mr Martinez in his new faith.

In July 2011, Mr Martinez had asked Fayed for help in getting off illicit drugs he was taking.

Fayed had replied, "I'm going to tie you up, OK, and that's what you need, brother".

Fayed and the other offenders went round to Mr Martinez's home and Fayed lashed him on the back 40 times as the others held him down.

Mr Martinez pleaded with Fayed for him to stop but Fayed replied he was doing it because he loved him and next time he thought about drinking he would remember the pain.

Part way through the lashing Mr Martinez said he wanted to vomit and he was allowed to go to the toilet and throw up before he was held and whipped again.

The offenders then left the premises and Mr Martinez discovered a hard drive used to store CCTV footage in his home had been taken, for which the four men were charged with stealing.

In his judgment, Magistrate Maloney referred to a statement from the imam of the Omar mosque in Auburn, Sheik Omar El Banna, who said the whipping was not sanctioned by the community or any imams or religious leaders.

The magistrate said that until now "assaults occasioned in the course of a religious practice involving mortification of the flesh have not been before any court in any common law country".

He said the courts should have regard to social policy and moral standards.

Magistrate Maloney drew a parallel with the law not allowing the consent of masochists to be a defence in charges of assault causing serious physical injury.

He noted the same in the case of "uncivilised" consensual street fights.

Mr Martinez had withdrawn his consent, which was neither informed nor valid in the first place, the magistrate said.

He will deliver sentence at a later date.

As Fayed left court to be bundled into a waiting car he told reporters, "I love him for the sake of Allah", referring to Mr Martinez.

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