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South Australian Police action to have the Finks declared a criminal organisation

POLICE are on the brink of a major legal assault on South Australia's three largest bikie gangs.

The Advertiser can reveal police are set to launch Supreme Court action to have the Finks declared a criminal organisation - followed by applications to have the Hells Angels and Rebels bikie gangs outlawed.

The much-anticipated legal moves will be the first since the Supreme Court and then High Court ruled the Government's anti-bikie legislation invalid, forcing it to heavily amend key sections, and are certain to spark an immediate counter-legal response from the respective gangs.

Senior legal sources have told The Advertiser the Rebels are already in preparatory talks with high-profile Sydney silk Bret Walker - a constitutional law expert - to challenge any application made to the courts.

While the Rebels application has been under way for the past nine months, police sources have revealed the Finks and Hells Angels applications have been compiled covertly over the past four months.

Police are in the final stages of detailed checking procedures with lawyers in the Crown Solicitor's office in each application.

Under the amended Serious and Organised Crime (Control) Act an Eligible Judge, selected by Chief Justice Chris Kourakis, can declare a bikie gang a criminal organisation if satisfied with the evidence - much of it likely to be confidential criminal intelligence - that police present in their application.

If that application is approved, police can then apply to the Supreme Court for a control order against a member of the declared organisation, preventing them from associating with other members - effectively preventing the gang from operating. Anyone failing to comply with an order faces a maximum jail term of five years.

It is understood police will lodge the Finks application first because of concerns over the extreme level of violent incidents involving gang members - attributed to bitter tensions with the Hells Angels and an ongoing internal power struggle.

The war with the Hells Angels has resulted in one murder whilst the internal row has seen one associate and one full member almost killed after being bashed - and in one incident then thrown over a cliff at Marino.

Senior police yesterday declined to comment at length on the applications, but confirmed preparations were underway.

"SAPOL staff are currently preparing a significant volume of information necessary to make applications for Declarations against OMCGs (outlaw motorcycle gangs)," Assistant Commissioner (Crime) Paul Dickson said. "SAPOL has every intention of using the Declaration process to disrupt the criminal enterprises of OMCGs."

Attorney-General John Rau yesterday said he was unable to comment on specific applications because they were police operational matters.

"I can say however that it is important that any application made is carefully prepared. This can and should take time," he said.

"The Government's role is to provide SAPOL with the legislative tools it needs to crackdown on organised bikie crime. What matters now is that these laws are effectively enforced."


The application to declare the Rebels a criminal organisation comes amid an unprecedented national operation by the joint Attero taskforce that has seen more than 700 charges laid against 510 members and associates nationally. Numerous gang members, including several in SA, are now being targeted by the tax department as part of Attero.

Police had moved to declare the Rebels in 2009 by lodging an application with then Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, but it was suspended after the High Court judgment in 2010 that ruled sections of the SOCCA were invalid. Police resumed work on the application shortly after the amendments to the legislation were passed in parliament last June.

Police sources said the violent activities of the Finks and Hells Angels recently had "greatly assisted" the applications about to be made.

"I don't think they have thought too far ahead. Every violent incident between the gangs has bolstered what we are compiling," a senior officer said.

"The older, wiser members who just want to do their business under the radar may have realised this, but the young hotheads who have only been in for a short time haven't seen the big picture."

The legal sources said it was unknown if either the Finks or Hells Angels would also engage Mr Walker in any challenge to the police applications.

Mr Walker, whose services cost around $12,000 per day, successfully represented the Finks against the government's first attempt to have the gang outlawed in 2009 and the subsequent High Court appeal.

The respected silk also represented the Finks in Queensland in the gang's unsuccessful High Court challenge that was finalised earlier this month.

The High Court ruled against the gang, allowing a police application in the Supreme Court to proceed.

In NSW anti-bikie laws recently passed through parliament. Victoria has legislation before parliament that mirrors that in use in SA and Queensland.


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