Attorney General George Brandis has decided to drop the charges against Melbourne man Jamie Reece Williams, who was accused of trying to flee to Syria in 2015 to fight the Islamic State with Kurdish groups. The move is likely to have implications on Australians, who returned after being involved in fights with the ISIS and are being investigated by the Australian Federal Police.
Williams, 28, appeared before the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday, on charges of attempting to enter another country with hostile intentions in 2014. The charges were laid on him in July last year. “It’s an application to withdraw all charges,”
“It’s an application to withdraw all charges,” the Yahoo 7 News quoted Commonwealth prosecutor Andrew Doyle as saying.
Magistrate Donna Bakos confirmed that the single charge against Williams was dropped while an application of costs is underway.
Williams, who is from Epping, located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs, was intercepted at the Melbourne Airport in 2014 when he was trying to board a flight to the Middle East. Upon questioning, Williams had replied that he was headed for northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniyah and intends to join a Kurdish militia called the YPG and fight the Islamic State.
Williams’ lawyers applied for the discontinuation of the case against him by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution late last year. It was cited that the matter was not in the public interest as the Kurds are an ally of the coalition fighting the ISIS, which Australia is a part of.
They argued that, moreover, YPG is an effective government in parts of northern Syria as they exerted substantial control in those regions. However, it is not clear on what grounds the CDPP has decided to take down the charges against Williams.
The ABC reported that under foreign fighters law, if anyone is found to have fought with the armed forces of a government, they will be exempt from charges.
“I’m very happy with the result, that’s all I have to say,” the Yahoo 7 News quoted Williams as saying while he walked out of court.