Imam who illegally cleared Hawkesbury land scolded by Sydney judge
A Sydney judge has scolded the barrister for two men who conducted illegal land clearing and construction on a property in Sydney’s north-west, saying their “time has absolutely run out”.
- The defendants have previously claimed religious exemption from Australian law
- Justice Terrence Sheahan berated the men and their lawyer for their failure to remediate land they illegally cleared
- The men are facing contempt of court charges for continuing to illegally build on the Colo property
The men, Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali and Diaa Kara-Ali, were ordered by the Land and Environment Court four months ago to remove illegal structures and remediate the cleared land on the Colo property.
That included planting five thousand saplings from a specialist nursery, and monthly weed spraying.
In a related matter, the men are facing contempt of court charges for continuing to illegally build on the property after being ordered to stop.
At today’s directions hearing, Hawkesbury Council said it was dissatisfied with the progress of the remediation.
Dashcam vision of Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali (right) and another man during a visit to the property by council officers in July. (Supplied: NSW Courts)
It argued a report, tendered to the court, from an engineer engaged by the men read more like a development application than a plan to comply with the remediation orders.
Justice Terrence Sheahan expressed his frustration after the defendant’s barrister, Steven Beverling, asked for extra time for the men to comply with the orders.
“You have had a long time to do that and you haven’t, that’s why we’re here,” he told Mr Beverling, who responded: “Can I say there’s movement at the station.”
Justice Sheahan also told Mr Berverling that rather than handing up a “development application” he should be telling his clients to comply with the remediation orders, adding “is that clear?”.
Dr Mustapha Kara-Ali, is the Iman of a religious guild called Diwan Al Dawla on the Colo property.
Before and after photos show the loss of vegetation after the men cleared the block. (Supplied)
He and Diaa Kara-Ali were present at today’s directions hearing, but in September this year he told the ABC he would not take part in the court process because he did not believe it to be a secular institution.
His claim Diwan Al Dawla was a religious charity was not supported by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission.
There will be another directions hearing for the matter next Wednesday.
A final directions hearing for the contempt charges has been scheduled for next year.