A shock ruling in a Turkish court which meant Australia’s most wanted terrorist Neil Prakash may have walked free from jail, has been revoked just hours after it was passed.
Following a hearing on Thursday it was revealed that the 27-year-old Islamic State terrorist could be released from the maximum-security jail in Gaziantep, in southern Turkey, where he has been held since his capture in October 2016, after a judge rejected Australia’s request for extradition.
According to the ABC Judge Ismail Deniz rejected the prosecutor’s request for extradition, saying the conditions for the extradition had not been made available to the court. Outside court, Prakash’s lawyer Mehmet Alper Unver told journalists there remained no obstacle to his client being released from jail, unless there was another charge or indictment against him.
However, just two hours later, the same judge presided over a hearing in closed court and ruled that Prakash should answer local charges of committing a crime against the state of Turkey by being a member of Islamic State.
If he is dealt with as a regular member of Islamic State and convicted of those local charges, Prakash could expect to be sentenced to a jail term anywhere from seven to 15 years, reports the Herald Sun. While if he is convicted as a senior member of Islamic State, he could expect a jail term of 25 years to life.
Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told Starts at 60: “We are disappointed that the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey has rejected the request to extradite Neil Prakash to Australia. We will continue to engage with Turkish authorities as they consider whether to appeal the extradition decision.
“We will also continue to follow the related case related to Prakash’s ISIS activities when the court reconvenes in September.”
Prakash is currently wanted in Australia on charges of being a member of a terrorist organisation. He is believed to have travelled to Syria in 2013 to fight for ISIS and attempted to recruit other members using social media. Australia wants Turkey to extradite him on a variety of charges including advocating and supporting terrorism and being a member of a terror group.
There was an outcry earlier this year after it was revealed that Prakash’s children could one day be eligible for citizenship in the country if they’re still alive.
According to an exclusive report by Newscorp, which was published in the Herald Sun, Melbourne-born Prakash told Turkish investigators he fathered at least three children with two jihadi brides. It is believed two of the children were born a month apart and would be aged 20 and 21 months.
It is reported his two wives were a Dutch-Syrian woman and a French-Syrian woman, although the whereabouts of the women and the children is currently unknown. There is a possibility the women and children have been killed. Prakash is thought to have made the confession to investigators when he was arrested after trying to cross the Syrian border two years ago in 2016.
Prakash’ case has been adjourned until September 27.