[JURIST] The New South Wales Supreme Court [official website] on Monday sentenced five men for conspiring to commit acts of terrorism. The five men are Australian citizens from Sydney and are of Lebanese, Libyan, and Bangladeshi descent. The lead conspirator and his lieutenant were sentenced [SMH report] to 28 years in prison, while the other three involved in the plot received between 23 and 26 years, all of which were to be dated from the time of their arrest in 2005. The men had pleaded not guilty to the conspiracy charges at the beginning of the 10-month trial, the longest in Australian history. During the trial, the prosecution charged [Telegraph report] that the five men wanted to terrorize the Australian public in retaliation for Australian involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars [GlobalSecurity backgrounders]. It was also charged that one of the men was trained in Pakistan [NYT report] by Lashkar-e-Taiba [CFR backgrounder], and three others were taken into the Australian outback and trained in a paramilitary-like camp. Although their target was unspecified, testimony during trial alleged that the conspirators considered attacking a football game and killing former prime minister John Howard [BBC profile].
The five men were convicted [JURIST report] of conspiracy to do acts in preparation of terrorist attacks in October. The men, who could not be named publicly, were found guilty of having stockpiled ammunition and bomb-making materials. Four co-conspirators had previously pleaded guilty [ABC report] to related charges, although this information was kept from the jury [Australian report] during the trial. The five faced a maximum of life in prison [Reuters report]. The jury returned the convictions after deliberating for 23 days [UPI report], hearing from 300 witnesses, and examining 3,000 exhibits, which included 30 days of video surveillance [ABC report] and 18 hours of taped phone calls. The men were arrested [ABC report] in a series of raids in 2005.