He allegedly had no problem standing up to police during last year’s Muslim riots, but Mohammed Issai Issaka just couldn’t bring himself to stand and show respect to a Sydney magistrate. Despite berating the 44-year-old for his disrespect, Judge Milledge then went out of her way to placate him – working out a compromise so he could stay in the court.
Courier Mail (h/t Ed H) Appearing at the Downing Centre Local Court on charges of rioting and assaulting police, Issaka’s case was held up for 30 minutes after he refused to rise to his feet on the grounds of his ‘religious beliefs’ when magistrate Jacqueline Milledge entered the courtroom.
Ms Milledge adjourned the proceedings for a short time, allowing Issaka to leave the room, before she reconvened the court. Once she was seated, Issaka returned to the room – technically standing – as he walked to his seat.
Issaka’s hearing had earlier ground to a halt before it began when Ms Milledge repeatedly demanded he stand up. “You can tell me where it is in his religion that it says he cannot stand,” she told Issaka’s lawyer Stephen Hopper. Issaka was eventually allowed to stay outside the court as everyone else stood — walking in after Ms Milledge was already in her seat.
Attorney-General Greg Smith said yesterday the public expected everyone to follow the tradition of standing in court when a magistrate entered. “It is a sign of respect to the institution of the court, not any individual officer,” he said. A person can be charged with “contempt in the face of court” if they do anything to undermine the authority or dignity of the proceedings. Mr Hopper said his client respected the law and his refusal to stand for the magistrate had nothing to do with her gender: “I respect that (he) has beliefs and that he stuck by his beliefs, that’s a matter for him.”
The court yesterday heard Issaka was “hissing” at police dogs and did a “running jump-kick” into several officers’ shields during the protests. Sergeant Catherine Sadler said she heard him yell abuse at her during the violent clashes, telling her: “You’re not a lady, you’re fucking filth.”
Issaka has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied swearing at Sgt Sadler or being violent and aggressive towards any officers. He claimed one constable repeatedly punched him and he was left with a gash to his head, a fractured jaw and a chipped tooth after the protests.
Issaka’s hearing was adjourned to September, when he will once again appear before Ms Milledge.