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Judge orders trial date set as Bernard Collaery asks for more evidence from former East Timor presidents

Canberra lawyer Bernard Collaery has asked for more evidence from two former East Timor presidents to support his case as a judge orders a trial date to be set.

Most important points:

Mr Collaery is charged with conspiracy to reveal classified information about an alleged Australian spy operation in East Timor Justice David Mossop ordered a trial date to be set A secret hearing has yet to determine what should and should not be heard during the trial

Collaery’s lawyer Philip Bolton told the ACT Supreme Court today that he needed more evidence from former East Timor presidents Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta to support his efforts to keep the trial open.

Mr. Ramos Horta has now also been elected president, who will return to the top position on 20 May.

Both men have already made a statement in previous proceedings by means of an affidavit.

Tim Begbie, who represents the federal attorney general, told the court that no further evidence from the couple should be allowed.

“So it seems to us, to set this up now is always a second bite in the icing,” he said.

Mr Begbie said the plan could also mean the Commonwealth would have to act on new evidence when the court considers top secret material before the court during a special hearing.

But Mr Collaery’s lawyer Philip Bolton said denying the evidence of the two men would pose a procedural impediment to Mr Collaery in his case keeping the trial open.

“The Commonwealth’s position is to protect the Commonwealth at large,” Bolton said.

He said the government was concerned that evidence from people of such status would contradict its case.

Judge orders trial date to be set

Judge David Mossop today ordered a trial date to be set next week. (ABC News: Ian Cutmore)

The matter was moved forward today, with the appointment of a special counsel to represent Mr Collaery in the top secret evidence hearing.

Bernard Collaery

The court is even considering holding the hearing somewhere other than the courthouse, to ensure safety.

The secret hearing will help determine what should and should not be heard in open court during the trial.

Today, the court also rejected a request for an extension of time by Mr Collaery’s lawyers as they consider appealing a ruling this week, setting aside subpoenas for documents from major government agencies.

Mr Collaery had hoped to find information about the legality of the alleged espionage operation in the material sought.

But the court ruled that he could still be prosecuted without the government having to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the alleged operation was within the law.

Despite the unfinished business, Judge David Mossop ordered a trial date next week, shifting the focus from fighting the attorney general to the prosecution.

Dorothy R. Barrett

I’m a full-time blogger by passion. This is my first blog, and I'm excited to share everything that I love about technology, business, and lifestyle with you. I’m a writer by trade, and I can be found writing about tech, business, and lifestyle on my personal blog.

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