How anti-lockdown ‘rebels’ who were handcuffed, fined and locked up for as little as going for a walk are now having their charges quietly DROPPED ~ August 4, 2022

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Anti-lockdown ‘rebels’ arrested, locked-up and fined during one of Victoria’s darkest periods in history are quietly being let off the hook in the run up to the next state election. 

Over the past month, Victorian prosecutors have dropped charges against three anti-lockdown ringleaders. 

On Thursday, Jemal Abazi walked free from court almost two years after he was charged for encouraging Dandenong locals to walk together for their allotted one-hour period of exercise during Victoria’s second hard lockdown in August 2020. 

Jemal Abazi is placed in handcuffs after going for a walk in Dandenong in August 2020

Jemal Abazi is placed in handcuffs after going for a walk in Dandenong in August 2020 

Monica Smit smiles as she is dragged away by police at Flinders Street Station during a snap protest called on the eve of Melbourne's sixth lockdown

Monica Smit smiles as she is dragged away by police at Flinders Street Station during a snap protest called on the eve of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown

Solihin Millin is moved on by police in Melbourne during a stage-4 lockdown for leaving home without a legitimate reason in August 2020

Solihin Millin is moved on by police in Melbourne during a stage-4 lockdown for leaving home without a legitimate reason in August 2020

Journalist Monica Smit had her charges withdrawn earlier this month.

The vocal anti-vaxxer had spent 22 days in jail after refusing to comply with a series of bail conditions which were later scrapped by the Supreme Court of Victoria. 

Retired pensioner Solihin Millin also had his charges dropped this month after being charged for inciting the ‘Freedom Rally’ at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in September 2020. 

The 78-year old had been charged with inciting others to protest. 

The reasons given for dropping the elderly Victorian’s charges revolved around his age, lack of prior convictions, his status as a pensioner and the likely sentence upon a finding of guilt meant ‘it was no longer in the public interest to continue prosecution’.

The supposed lack of public interest in prosecuting the protesters had been used to justify the dumping of all three of their cases. 

On Friday, Mr Abazi stood before the County Court of Victoria to ask Mr Andrews why his charges had been dropped. 

The restaurateur had been charged with incitement to breach Covid stay-at-home directives and an associated breach of bail. 

‘That is the question we are all asking, but the answer still remains to be answered so understandably I’m pretty confused,’ Mr Abazi said in a video posted to social media. 

‘They put me through a lot and they need to answer these simple questions.’ 

A police officer charges at Dandenong walkers wielding pepper spray in 2020 after his colleagues took down a man who was not wearing a mask

A police officer charges at Dandenong walkers wielding pepper spray in 2020 after his colleagues took down a man who was not wearing a mask 

A man is taken down by police in Dandenong after going for a group walk in August 2020

A man is taken down by police in Dandenong after going for a group walk in August 2020 

People in Dandenong gathered in large groups to walk at the same time during their allotted one-hour period of free exercise during Dan Andrews' lockdowns

People in Dandenong gathered in large groups to walk at the same time during their allotted one-hour period of free exercise during Dan Andrews’ lockdowns

Mr Abazi said he had been badly mistreated by Victoria Police and the justice system. 

‘I have been arrested on many, many occasions and now they’ve just decided to drop everything regardless that the amount of money it has cost this government and the people,’ he said. 

Tens of thousands of ordinary Victorians were fined by a militant Victoria Police during the state’s six hard lockdowns. 

In May, a state budget estimates inquiry heard more than 50,000 fines were handed to Victorians for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, but half had not been paid.

Of those, almost 40,000 were issued for ‘general breaches’ and another 1,723 fines for ‘illegal gatherings’.

Legal groups have been calling for fines to be dumped since 2020, arguing they disproportionately affected marginalised communities and in some cases had been issued to people who were acting within the law.

Mr Abazi’s lawyer, James Catlin, said the decision to drop charges was an ‘attempt to mute community anger’, the Herald Sun reported. 

‘It looks like a belated attempt to mute community anger about police tactics during the pandemic in the lead up to the election,’ Mr Catlin said.

‘A jury trial would have reminded people’.

Mr Abazi is seeking to recover the costs of fighting the charges for two years.

Monica Smit, 33,had her charges dropped, but only after she had already been put behind bars

Monica Smit, 33,had her charges dropped, but only after she had already been put behind bars

Ms Smit, who founded anti-vax group Reignite Democracy Australia, filmed her own arrest in September last year (pictured)

Ms Smit, who founded anti-vax group Reignite Democracy Australia, filmed her own arrest in September last year (pictured) 

How anti-lockdown ‘rebels’ who were handcuffed, fined and locked up for as little as going for a walk are now having their charges quietly DROPPED

  • Dandenong residents hit the streets and walked together during lockdowns
  • Angry locals lashed out at VIC Police after officers broke them up in 2020
  • Melbourne’s Stage Four lockdown limited outdoor exercise to one hour a day 
  • Prosecutors have dropped charges against three Covid lockdown rebels
  • Prosecutor boss claims dumping the charges are now in the ‘public interest’ 
  • Victorians will go to the polls to decide Premier Daniel Andrews’ fate in months 

By Wayne Flower, Melbourne Correspondent

Published: 01:41 EDT, 29 July 2022 | Updated: 04:01 EDT, 29 July 2022

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Anti-lockdown ‘rebels’ arrested, locked-up and fined during one of Victoria’s darkest periods in history are quietly being let off the hook in the run up to the next state election. 

Over the past month, Victorian prosecutors have dropped charges against three anti-lockdown ringleaders. 

On Thursday, Jemal Abazi walked free from court almost two years after he was charged for encouraging Dandenong locals to walk together for their allotted one-hour period of exercise during Victoria’s second hard lockdown in August 2020. 

Jemal Abazi is placed in handcuffs after going for a walk in Dandenong in August 2020

Jemal Abazi is placed in handcuffs after going for a walk in Dandenong in August 2020 

Monica Smit smiles as she is dragged away by police at Flinders Street Station during a snap protest called on the eve of Melbourne's sixth lockdown

Monica Smit smiles as she is dragged away by police at Flinders Street Station during a snap protest called on the eve of Melbourne’s sixth lockdown

Solihin Millin is moved on by police in Melbourne during a stage-4 lockdown for leaving home without a legitimate reason in August 2020

Solihin Millin is moved on by police in Melbourne during a stage-4 lockdown for leaving home without a legitimate reason in August 2020

Journalist Monica Smit had her charges withdrawn earlier this month.

The vocal anti-vaxxer had spent 22 days in jail after refusing to comply with a series of bail conditions which were later scrapped by the Supreme Court of Victoria. 

Retired pensioner Solihin Millin also had his charges dropped this month after being charged for inciting the ‘Freedom Rally’ at Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance in September 2020. 

The 78-year old had been charged with inciting others to protest. 

The reasons given for dropping the elderly Victorian’s charges revolved around his age, lack of prior convictions, his status as a pensioner and the likely sentence upon a finding of guilt meant ‘it was no longer in the public interest to continue prosecution’.

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The supposed lack of public interest in prosecuting the protesters had been used to justify the dumping of all three of their cases. 

On Friday, Mr Abazi stood before the County Court of Victoria to ask Mr Andrews why his charges had been dropped. 

The restaurateur had been charged with incitement to breach Covid stay-at-home directives and an associated breach of bail. 

‘That is the question we are all asking, but the answer still remains to be answered so understandably I’m pretty confused,’ Mr Abazi said in a video posted to social media. 

‘They put me through a lot and they need to answer these simple questions.’ 

A police officer charges at Dandenong walkers wielding pepper spray in 2020 after his colleagues took down a man who was not wearing a mask

A police officer charges at Dandenong walkers wielding pepper spray in 2020 after his colleagues took down a man who was not wearing a mask 

A man is taken down by police in Dandenong after going for a group walk in August 2020

A man is taken down by police in Dandenong after going for a group walk in August 2020 

People in Dandenong gathered in large groups to walk at the same time during their allotted one-hour period of free exercise during Dan Andrews' lockdowns

People in Dandenong gathered in large groups to walk at the same time during their allotted one-hour period of free exercise during Dan Andrews’ lockdowns

Mr Abazi said he had been badly mistreated by Victoria Police and the justice system. 

‘I have been arrested on many, many occasions and now they’ve just decided to drop everything regardless that the amount of money it has cost this government and the people,’ he said. 

Tens of thousands of ordinary Victorians were fined by a militant Victoria Police during the state’s six hard lockdowns. 

In May, a state budget estimates inquiry heard more than 50,000 fines were handed to Victorians for breaching Covid-19 restrictions, but half had not been paid.

Of those, almost 40,000 were issued for ‘general breaches’ and another 1,723 fines for ‘illegal gatherings’.

Legal groups have been calling for fines to be dumped since 2020, arguing they disproportionately affected marginalised communities and in some cases had been issued to people who were acting within the law.

Mr Abazi’s lawyer, James Catlin, said the decision to drop charges was an ‘attempt to mute community anger’, the Herald Sun reported. 

‘It looks like a belated attempt to mute community anger about police tactics during the pandemic in the lead up to the election,’ Mr Catlin said.

‘A jury trial would have reminded people’.

Mr Abazi is seeking to recover the costs of fighting the charges for two years.

Monica Smit, 33,had her charges dropped, but only after she had already been put behind bars

Monica Smit, 33,had her charges dropped, but only after she had already been put behind bars

Ms Smit, who founded anti-vax group Reignite Democracy Australia, filmed her own arrest in September last year (pictured)

Ms Smit, who founded anti-vax group Reignite Democracy Australia, filmed her own arrest in September last year (pictured) 

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Prosecutors dropped charges against Ms Smit on July 18 despite her dramatic 2021 arrest, which she live streamed to social media. 

She had been scheduled to stand trial at the County Court of Victoria until prosecutors filed a last minute notice of discontinuance after deciding it was no longer in the ‘public interest’ to continue. 

The legal proceedings had cost Ms Smit ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dollars from donors – money she hopes to get back when her application for costs returns to court next week. 

Mr Millin had long argued his charges were invalid because the stay-at-home-orders in place at the time of his arrest was based on illegitimate health advice.

Like his fellow protesters, police had raided his house and confiscated computers and mobile phones. 

‘I believe the VicGov realise they have no evidence to support the Victorian emergency … and are hiding this fact which in essence is conspiracy to conceal evidence and an attempt to pervert the course of justice,’ he said in a statement posted to his website last week. 

‘The real reason for this discontinuance is that the VicGov doesn’t have a case and the Victorian emergency is unlawful.’

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