World News – AU – Prosecutor vows to keep fighting as Tony Mokbel seeks release from prison


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Victoria’s chief prosecutor has vowed to crack down on Tony Mokbel’s prison release despite a shock court ruling, appealing Tuesday to overturn a separate conviction in a federal trial.

Mokbel, 55, is a significant step closer to being released after a 12-year prison sentence for importing a commercial quantity of cocaine – the charge that led to his infamous escape to Greece – was waived Tuesday.

The conviction of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution and the Australian Federal Police has collapsed amid revelations of the wrongdoing of Mokbel’s then attorney Nicola Gobbo.

Commonwealth attorney Rowena Orr, QC, told the appeals court that prosecutors will not retrial because Mokbel had served his time importing.

The 2007 capture of Mokbel was at the heart of widespread law enforcement successes during the Gangland War in Melbourne.

He is the third person whose conviction for the misconduct of the Anti-Gangland Purana Task Force was overturned by Ms. Gobbo and the Victoria Police, whose exploits formed the basis of the TV series Underbelly.

However, the Victorian prosecutor has refused to accept a miscarriage of justice when the Crown passed three other major drug abuse convictions that increased Mokbel’s sentence to 30 years without parole from 22 years.

« We will not admit the appeal on the three matters the state has pursued in which Mokbel pleaded guilty, » a DPP spokeswoman said in a statement to The Age.

Mokbel’s attorney Ruth Shann, QC, said she will consider these cases – known by the operational code names Orbital, Quills, and Magnum – in the appeals court. Mokbel’s lawyers and the DPP are engaged in negotiations over information disclosure and competing assessments of the potential impact of Ms. Gobbo on the three cases.

The appeals court urged both sides to act swiftly in view of the seriousness of the justice issues.

« Those who have been the subject of this shameful behavior by Ms. Gobbo and those who facilitated their jobs have a duty to ensure that we determine the implications of these activities because of the impact on the criminal justice system. I have the full picture, « Appeals Court President, Justice Chris Maxwell, told the court on Tuesday.

It is expected that the appeal against all three convictions will depend on whether Ms. Gobbo contaminated the Mokbel cases for her work as a registered police informant at the time of her deposition.

All three convictions have already been examined by the Royal Commission on the management of police informants, finding that they may have been contaminated due to the misconduct of Ms. Gobbo and the Victoria Police Department.

« [Ms Gobbo] is providing [d] information to the police that is relevant to Mr Mokbel and these operations and related procedures, » stated Commissioner Margaret McMurdo in the final report of the Royal Commission. « Ms. Gobbo’s behavior likely violated her professional legal obligations to Mr. Mokbel. ”

Ms. Gobbo has long claimed that the overthrow of Tony Mokbel and his extensive criminal network was her main motivation when she started relaying information to the police.

The Royal Commission noted that Ms. Gobbo was providing the police with information about his contact details, addresses, finances and which of his staff were likely to turn against him, as well as assessments of his defense strategies and likely legal maneuvers.

When he fled the country, Ms. Gobbo gave police tips on how to find him and provided information about Mokbel’s plans to oppose the extradition.

« The criminal justice system could not work if lawyers took on the role of deciding whether clients deserve to be informed to the police in breach of their professional obligations to those clients and the administration of justice, » said Commissioner McMurdo.

The conviction in Operation Orbital also depended on the testimony of a former Mokbel employee known as Mr.. Cooper became known and, during the time he was testifying, made secret payments of at least 10 from the Victoria Police Department. Received $ 000. This discovery has already led to the relief of another former Mokbel employee, Zlate Cvetanovski.

The DPP and Victoria Police are expected to argue that Ms. Gobbo did not play a significant role in the Orbital, Quills and Magnum investigations, despite making some claims to the contrary.

The appellate court heard that at the center of the dispute over their involvement are three Informer Contact Reports (ICRs) that can be interpreted and a factual finding about their content may need to be decided by a judge’s decision.

Ms. Gobbo has also received personal credit for providing information leading to Mokbel’s arrest, an allegation that is heavily denied by police involved.

Detective Sergeant Jim Coghlan, who led the joint Purana-AFP operation that found Mokbel in Greece, previously tabled an affidavit to the royal commission denying any involvement of Ms Gobbo in Operation Magnum.

« I am aware that Ms. Gobbo has alleged that the information she provided led to the arrest of Tony Mokbel. That’s not true, ”he wrote.

Internal police documents submitted to the Royal Commission indicate that Ms. Gobbo may have provided information about her client, but the Victoria Police believe it has not been disclosed to investigators or during his extradition from Greece or were used during law enforcement.

“[Ms. Gobbo] has most likely violated [the professional law] by passing on defense strategies to [the Source Development Unit]. . However, this information was not passed on by the SDU, ”stated a memo from 2014.

Police sources previously told The Age that if Mokbel’s convictions were overturned, plans are underway to bring new charges against him over other investigations that were closed under his original appeal agreement in 2012.

Mokbel skipped the country in March 2006, days before he was due to be taken back into custody, to await the jury’s verdict on cocaine import charges.

He was sentenced to a minimum of nine years with a maximum of 12 years in his absence for importing three kilograms of cocaine in candles from Mexico before he was arrested in Greece. He was extradited to Australia in May 2008.

He was sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison in 2012 after pleading guilty to three large-scale drug trafficking charges resulting from Operations Orbital, Magnum and Quills.

At the end of each day we send you the most important headlines, evening entertainment ideas and a long reading. Sign up for The Sydney Morning Herald’s newsletter here, The Age here, Brisbane Times here, and WAtoday today.

Chris Vedelago is an investigative reporter for The Age with a special interest in crime and justice.

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