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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Muslim Woman's Jail Sentence Overturned

Carnita Matthews (centre)

When a Muslim woman falsely accused a police officer of trying to rip off her veil during a random breath test last November, a magistrate said she was “malicious” and “ruthless” and sentenced her to six months jail. But Carnita Matthews walked out of court yesterday after a successful appeal against her conviction of knowingly making a false complaint. She emerged from court surrounded by 20 men screaming “Allahu Akbar”.

She was stopped for a random breath test last year and refused to remove her veil so the police officer could identify her. He then fined her for not properly displaying her P-plates and she became outraged and began arguing with him, unaware that a video of the incident was being recorded on tape inside the police vehicle. She started screaming at the officer that he was a racist, the fine was unfair and she would not accept it. “You are racist. All cops are racists... you are feeling guilty, I can see it in your eyes.” Two days later the mother of seven went to Campbelltown police station to lodge a statutory declaration stating that the officer had tried to pull off her veil. However, it is clear from the video shown to the court that the officer reached into the car to breath-test the woman but did not touch her veil.

Judge Clive Jeffreys said there was no evidence the statutory declaration had been made by Mrs Matthews or even that it was knowingly false. ''All we know is that a person with a black burqa came in to Campbelltown police station with a man in a brown suit with an envelope and that's it,'' he said. ''I'm not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she made the complaint and even if I was … I would not be satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that it was knowingly false.'' The judge will deliver his formal judgment tomorrow.