This is the pic that the judge said convinced him Melbourne-born Neil Prakash was an ISIS terrorist.
This is the pic that the judge said convinced him Melbourne-born Neil Prakash was an ISIS terrorist.

Prakash fights for freedom as damning photo exposed

EXCLUSIVE: This is the photograph that brought down Australia's most wanted jihadist.

News Corp can also reveal Melbourne-born jihadi Prakash - who would have been jailed for life if convicted in Australia - has instructed his Turkish lawyer to apply for a lighter sentence than the one handed down last month when he was convicted of terrorism offences.

Prakash will appeal his 7.5-year jail term, despite having only 2.5 years left to serve.

News of the appeal comes as News Corp today publishes the photograph that convinced the Turkish judges of his guilt.

The photograph, showing Prakash with a gun and posing with two men in military-style uniform, was a key part of the evidence used against him when he was convicted following a two-year trial in the Kilis Criminal Court in Turkey, near the Syrian border.

The photograph was one of three crucial pieces of evidence the judge relied on when he convicted Prakash of committing crimes against the state of Turkey by being a member of Islamic State.

This is the picture that the judge said convinced him Melbourne-born Neil Prakash was an ISIS terrorist. The photograph, showing Prakash with a gun and posing with two men in military-style uniform, was a key part of the evidence used against him.
This is the picture that the judge said convinced him Melbourne-born Neil Prakash was an ISIS terrorist. The photograph, showing Prakash with a gun and posing with two men in military-style uniform, was a key part of the evidence used against him.

 

Prakash's lawyer Resat Davran confirmed to News Corp he would take Prakash's case to the appeals court in the nearby city of Gaziantep, the same city where Prakash has been locked up in jail since his arrest trying to cross the border in October 2016.

Prakash, who spent three years in Syria recruiting for Islamic State, publishing propaganda in English and urging attacks in Melbourne and Sydney, was convicted and sentenced on March 15.

Under somewhat complicated Turkish terrorist sentencing guidelines, he received six years' jail, with a 50 per cent loading for committing terrorist offences, taking his term to nine years. This was reduced to 7.5 years after Judge Ismail Deniz said he had assisted authorities by giving them information about Islamic state.

 

The court in Kilis, southeastern Turkey, that convicted Neil Prakash, a former rapper from Melbourne of belonging to a terror group and sentenced him to more than seven years in prison. Picture: AP
The court in Kilis, southeastern Turkey, that convicted Neil Prakash, a former rapper from Melbourne of belonging to a terror group and sentenced him to more than seven years in prison. Picture: AP

 

Judge Deniz told Prakash that taking into account time already served, he would spend a further 2.5 years in jail then be released, meaning he would be a free man in late 2021.

Prakash is understood to have been content with the sentence, thanking the judge after his

sentence was handed down.

However, Mr Davran confirmed to News Corp this week that he had advised Prakash to seek a lighter term, and Prakash had agreed.

Following Prakash's conviction, Mr Davran had said there were three key pieces of evidence against Prakash that had led to his conviction.

"The evidence is, firstly, that he admitted being a member of a terrorist organisation … the second is that ISIS is a terror organisation according to the Turkish state,'' Mr Davran said.

"And there were photographs of him on his file which would be considered evidence against him.''

The key photograph obtained by News Corp shows Prakash holding a weapon, standing with two other young men who are dressed in military-style clothing.

The men have their arms slung around Prakash's shoulders, and one of them is holding up his index finger in the gesture which extremist groups including Islamic State have adopted as their own.

It is not known if the photograph was taken during the time Prakash was a signed-up member of Islamic State in Syria, or if it was in the first few weeks after he arrived in 2013, when he first joined another extremist group, Ahrar al-Sham.

One of Australia's most wanted Islamic State members, Prakash has admitted joining the group but denied being a leader, and said he regretted his decision to join.

 

Neil Prakash in court on September 27 2018 in Kilis, Turkey.
Neil Prakash in court on September 27 2018 in Kilis, Turkey.

 

An official source has also told News Corp Prakash has not adjusted well to life in the Gaziantep prison, and his weight has fallen to around 50 kilograms because he cannot take to Turkish food.

The source also claimed that Prakash had been allowed to speak to his mother in Australia once a week on the phone, but that he had no contact with his father.

It's believed a female Australian lawyer was involved with Prakash's case at least temporarily, and told Mr Davran that Prakash would face serious terrorism charges in Australia and would be looking at a life sentence if convicted on home soil.

Mr Davran would not comment on whether he had conversations with an Australian lawyer about Prakash.

 

Neil Prakash was on the run for years before he was caught. Picture: Supplied
Neil Prakash was on the run for years before he was caught. Picture: Supplied

 

The Kilis Criminal Court last year refused Australia's bid to extradite Prakash to face charges on home soil of being a member of a terrorist organisation, advocating terrorism, incursions into foreign countries with the intention of engaging in hostile activities and providing support to a terrorist organisation.

Under new laws introduced in Australia in response to the rise of Islamic State, most of these

charges Prakash would face carry a maximum 10-year jail term each.

However, the crime of incursion into a foreign country - essentially becoming a foreign fighter - carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Australia has appealed against the decision to reject the extradition.

The long-term future is unclear for Prakash, whose Australian citizenship was revoked in December.

Fiji has rejected Australia's assertion that he can avail himself of Fijian citizenship through his father.



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