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Friday, 13 December, 2002, 09:47 GMT
'Mooning' is political protest, court told
An Australian court has been told that "mooning", or baring buttocks, is a legitimate political protest.

Defendant James Albert Ernest Togo, 20, was charged with behaving in an indecent manner for baring his buttocks at a police car in August.

"If we allowed everyone who wanted to drop their pants and moon police officers, we are undermining the authority of the police

Police Prosecutor Michael Purcell

His lawyer told Coolangatta Magistrates Court that mooning police was a protest and should be protected under the constitution.

But police prosecutors said the authority of the police would be threatened if people were allowed to flash their buttocks freely.

Police prosecutor Senior Sergeant Michael Purcell said Mr Togo's defence was a dangerous argument.

"How can the action of someone dropping their pants and exposing their buttocks become public comment or a political protest?" he told the court, in the eastern state of Queensland.

"If we allowed everyone who wanted to drop their pants and moon police officers, we are undermining the authority of the police."

Mr O'Sullivan, who is from Togo's Aboriginal Legal Service, said the incident involving his client reflected hostility between aboriginal youths and police in Queensland.

"They don't like what you coppers stand for," he said.

In a more light-hearted moment, Mr O'Sullivan argued that mooning was accepted Australian behaviour and should be seen as a national icon.

Mr Purcell asked in response whether Mr O'Sullivan thought bare buttocks should replace the emu and kangaroo on Australia's coat of arms.

A verdict in the case is expected in February.

See also:

12 Dec 02 | Asia-Pacific
27 Sep 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jul 02 | Asia-Pacific
04 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
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