40 lashes under 'Islamic law': men guilty of assault
Four men have been found guilty of giving a Sydney electrician 40 lashes with a cable, which they said was a punishment under Islamic law for drinking alcohol and using drugs.
Zakaryah Raad, Tolga Cifci, Wassim Fayad, and Cengiz Coskun were today convicted of several charges relating to whipping Cristian Martinez, a convert to Islam, in July 2011.
Mr Fayad counted out the lashes and when he came up to number 10 ... he gave Mr Martinez a break. Mr Martinez went into the bathroom and vomited.
Magistrate Brian Maloney told Burwood Local Court on Thursday it was an extremely unusual case.
Zakaryah Raad leaves Burwood Local Court last October. He has been found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company. Photo: Ben Rushton
"Until now, assaults occasioned in the course of a religious practice involving the mortification of the flesh have not been before any court in any common law country."
Mr Maloney said that, from the outset, prosecutors were clear the case was not about sharia, or about the Islamic faith.
The court heard Mr Martinez drank alcohol and took drugs on July 15 and 16, 2011, before he called Fayad, who had been his spiritual leader, and said he wanted help to get off drugs and make a fresh start.
Wassim Fayad leaves Burwood Local Court last October. He has been found guilty of assault and stealing. Photo: Ben Rushton
Fayad said: "Yeah, it means I'm going to tie you up, brother, that's what I'm going to do.
"I'm going to tie you up, OK, and that's what you need brother, because now you need this level because you're not going anywhere."
Fayad called Raad and told him to go to Mr Martinez's western Sydney townhouse to check on him, where Raad sent Fayad a message saying something like: "Allam, the sharia bring right material. It's important."
Fayad, Cifci and Coskun then went to Mr Martinez's unit late on July 16 and Fayad whipped him while the others held him down on a bed.
"Mr Fayad counted out the lashes and when he came up to number 10 ... he gave Mr Martinez a break," Mr Maloney said.
"Mr Martinez went into the bathroom and vomited.
"Mr Martinez was then forced back onto the bed and given 10 further lashes by Mr Fayad. He was given another break and went to the bathroom again."
After the whipping, Mr Martinez sought advice from from Sheik Omar el Banna, the imam of the Omar Mosque in Auburn.
In a statement to the court, the sheik said the men's actions were not sanctioned by the Islamic community in any way.
"I said [to Mr Martinez] ... 'This is ridiculous. You can't apply this ruling, this is wrong. This isn't what should be happening'," he said.
Mr Martinez said he consented to the 1st, 11th and 21st lash, but Magistrate Maloney found that his consent had been withdrawn.
Raad was convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm in company, stealing and two counts of intimidation, while the others were convicted of the assault and stealing charges, related to a CCTV hard drive they took from Mr Martinez's home.
The men will be sentenced at a later date.