Â AS she sat crying in a police station, accused of cocaine dealing, former NSW Young Australian of the Year Iktimal Hage-Ali allegedly told police: “I’m supposed to be a role model.”
But she ain’t. And this trial is as frivolous as her nomination to the “Young Australian of the Year” awards.
Detained … Iktimal Hage-Ali is suing the State.
Recounting the interview that followed her arrest, Inspector Steven Patton told the NSW District Court yesterday: “As she was saying this she was sobbing and said, ‘I spoke at your multicultural day, how embarrassing, you must have all been laughing’.”
Insp Patton spoke to Ms Hage-Ali after she was picked up in Sydney on suspicion of “very low level” cocaine dealing on November 6, 2006.
Hours later she was released without charge after police established as “credible” her claim that she bought 3g of the drug for personal use.
The arrest occurred eight days before Ms Hage-Ali, a member of former prime minister John Howard’s Muslim Community Reference Group, was named NSW Young Australian of the Year, a title she later relinquished.
Ms Hage-Ali, 24, is suing the state of NSW for wrongful arrest and claims she should not have been detained.
Insp Patton said he had spoken to Ms Hage-Ali at Bankstown police station immediately after her arrest.
“She was crying. She also said, ‘I’m a finalist in the NSW Young Australian of the Year’,” he said.
In earlier hearings, Ms Hage-Ali has denied ever saying those words.
Peter Boder QC, for the state of NSW, asked Insp Patton: “Iktimal Hage-Ali was a low level supplier as far as you were concerned?”
Insp Patton: “Very low level.”
Mr Boder: “Was she a person who ought to have been arrested?”
“Yes,” Insp Patton replied.
The police officer said he released the young woman, one of three people arrested, because he believed her claim that the drugs were for personal use.
Insp Patton said he first became aware the woman he was investigating was a high-profile ambassador when he was looking over a running sheet for a Middle Eastern organised crime squad training day.
Ms Hage-Ali, who gave evidence last December, is living in Dubai and was not in court for her case, which resumed earlier this week.
The hearing is continuing before Judge Michael Elkaim.