Australian teen pleads not guilty to plotting terror attack

SYDNEY (AP) — A teenager pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to plotting a terrorist attack on an Australian Veteran’s Day ceremony.

The 16-year-old’s lawyer, Zemarai Khatiz, entered the plea on his client’s behalf. The teen, who did not appear at the hearing in Parramatta Children’s Court in western Sydney, could face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.

The teenager was arrested and charged with one count of planning a terrorist attack on Sunday, one day before hundreds of thousands of Australians gathered at ceremonies across the country to mark ANZAC Day. The annual holiday commemorates the April 25, 1915, Gallipoli landings in Turkey — the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during World War I.

In court documents, police accuse the teen of trying to get a gun as part of the alleged plot. New South Wales Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said officials believe the teen was acting alone and said he had previously been on authorities’ radar. Police have declined to reveal any other details.

This is the second year in a row that police say they have thwarted an attack on an ANZAC Day ceremony. Last year, police in Melbourne arrested five teenagers on suspicion of plotting an Islamic State group-inspired attack intended to coincide with the city’s ANZAC service.

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