Thirteen men accused of belonging to a terrorist cell that was plotting a major attack in Australia pleaded not guilty to the charges Monday.
The men appeared in the Victorian state Supreme Court, where they each pleaded not guilty to belonging to a terrorist organization and various terrorism-related offenses. All of the men opted to sit as their charges were read out, instead of standing as is customary in Australia.
Judge Bernard Bongiorno said he understood this was for religious reasons, but did not elaborate. The defendants are Muslims.
The men were among 18 suspects arrested last year in coordinated pre-dawn raids in Melbourne and Sydney in a two-year operation police said prevented a catastrophic terror attack in Australia, possibly targeting a nuclear reactor in southern Sydney.