Australia

IS recruiter's wife found guilty of refusing to stand for a judge

Moutia Elzahed arrives to the Downing Centre court in Sydney, Tuesday, February 20, 2018. Source: AAP

The wife of a Sydney terrorist recruiter has become the first person in NSW to be convicted of refusing to stand for a judge.

The wife of a terrorist recruiter has given the Islamic State salute after becoming the first person in NSW to be found guilty of refusing to stand for a judge in court.

Moutia Elzahed defiantly remained seated once again on Friday with her arms crossed after magistrate Carolyn Huntsman delivered the landmark decision.

The 50-year-old Muslim then gave the terrorist organisation's one-finger salute outside Sydney's Downing Centre Local Court while her friend called journalists "cockroaches".

Elzahed, who's married to jailed IS extremist Hamdi Alqudsi, was found guilty of nine counts of disrespectful behaviour in court.

Friday's stand-off came to a head when the magistrate returned to the bench and ordered Elzahed to leave her seat at the back of the courtroom and approach the bar table.

"Remain standing - you remain standing when I speak to you," Ms Huntsman said.

The magistrate found Elzahed had repeatedly and intentionally flouted the established court convention in 2016 when she failed to rise for District Court Judge Audrey Balla.

Elzahed said she only stood for Allah but Ms Huntsman found no evidence she'd acted on a genuine religious belief.

"No evidence was presented that the teachings of Islam compel this conduct," the magistrate said.

In 2016, Elzahed had been trying to sue the state and federal governments on claims of police violence and wrongful imprisonment over a raid on her Sydney home two years earlier. She was ultimately unsuccessful.

CCTV footage previously played in court showed Elzahed failed to rise nine times in November and December, with each offence carrying a maximum jail term of 14 days and/or a $1100 fine.

The magistrate on Friday noted Elzahed, who had no prior convictions, may be eligible for community work when the matter returns to court on June 15.

Ms Huntsman ruled that the law Elzahed was charged under - introduced in 2016 following a string of high-profile cases where Muslim defendants refused to stand on religious grounds - was constitutionally valid.

The court heard Elzahed has been subjected to online trolling and death threats since the case began.

The defence had originally cast doubt over whether Elzahed was the woman under the black niqab who refused to stand. But her lawyer later conceded her identity wouldn't be contested.

Defence barrister David Hume instead argued his client should be acquitted because there was no evidence Elzahed was under a legal duty to rise.

Elzahed, who lost her civil action over the 2014 raid and was ordered to pay $250,000 in police legal costs, earlier this week appealed the trial judge's ruling that she could not give evidence while wearing a niqab

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