Melbourne police say prosecution worth the risk after 18-year-old walks free

Police insist they would rather risk a prosecution failing than risk members of the community being hurt or killed after a 18-year-old from Melbourne was cleared of a terror charge.

Harun Causevic, of Hampton Park, yesterday walked free from the Victorian Magistrates' Court after a charge of conspiring to commit an act in preparation for a terror act was withdrawn.

He had been in custody for four months after being arrested in anti-terror raids on April 18.

A joint statement by Australian Federal Police and Victoria Police says there was not enough evidence to proceed with the charge.


Causevic's lawyer, Rob Stary, said a terrible injustice had been perpetrated. "This episode is going to erode confidence in the authorities."

But police said the counter-terrorism environment dictated they would always act in the interest of ensuring community safety. "Police would rather the risk of a prosecution failing than the risk of members of the community being hurt or killed through no overt action."

For much of his time in jail Causevic was in the major offenders unit of the Metropolitan Remand Centre, where a riot resulted in his access to visitors and programmes being limited.

Stary said Causevic was not entitled by law to compensation but the Government could make an ex gratia payment. "He ought to be recompensed, his family ought to be recompensed," Stary said.

He said the charges were based on flimsy evidence and the jailing of an 18-year-old over such a long period raised questions about how authorities deal with such matters.

After the withdrawal of the terror charge, Causevic admitted three weapons offences relating to knives and a knuckle-duster.

Deputy chief magistrate Jelena Popovic released him on bail and he returns to court in November.

Charges against another Melbourne teen, Sevdet Besim, 18, arrested in the same anti-terror raids, will proceed to a two-day committal hearing in December.


Feeling force of law

• Harun Causevic, 18, was accused of conspiring to commit a terrorist attack on Anzac Day.
• He was arrested in April for allegedly planning an Isis-inspired knife attack on police and was charged with conspiring to commit an act of terror, which carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
• The Melbourne teen was held for four months under Victoria's first preventative detention order and remanded in custody.
• Causevic was kept in isolation in a unit full of hardened criminals and, after a riot, had his access to visitors and programmes limited.