Former Police Sergeant Rick Flori has been fighting to clear his name for more than four years.
A Southport Magistrate has now ordered that his fight will continue – in a committal hearing late last week, Magistrate Michael Hogan ruled that Mr Flori has a case to answer, and that there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to a jury trial.
Fighting for justice
For anyone following the case, Flori is the former Gold Coast police officer charged with ‘misconduct in a public office’ after he allegedly released footage of fellow officers brutally bashing an arrested man named Noa Begic in the carpark of Surfer Paradise Police Station, and later washing Begic’s blood away. Mr Begic had been arrested earlier that evening for public nuisance and obstructing police.
The prosecution alleges Sergeant Flori leaked the video in January 2012, after an official complaint by the victim. He was stood down from his position after 25 years of honorable service. The offence he is alleged to have committed carries a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment. Flori has since been vigorously defending the charge, and in his own words is effectively ‘absent without pay’ as he does so.
In court, his lawyers argued that there was ‘no case to answer’. The prosecution contended that Flori leaked the video because he had a “significant grudge” against another officer involved, Senior Sergeant David Joachim.
A jury will decide
Magistrate Hogan has ruled that a jury should be left to decide Flori’s fate.
The four officers who bashed Noa Begic have largely escaped punishment, with only two of them facing any disciplinary action.
In the meantime, Flori is also fighting another battle against the Queensland Police Service (QPS) in the State’s highest court after the QPS leaked his private information to the media.
Flori’s legal team has asked the Court of Appeal to overturn a previous decision, which found the QPS had not breached the Information Privacy Act. Flori’s lawyers say that in the wake of the leaked CCTV footage, the QPS searched his home and compiled briefing notes, which found their way to the media.
Flori’s complaint was first lodged in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal, which found the QPS failed to take “reasonable safeguards” to protect his privacy. However, the matter was dismissed by QCAT on the basis that the executive briefing note was excluded under the Act.
Flori’s legal representatives are arguing that the QPS had an obligation to protect against the “disclosure or loss” of Flori’s private information. The appeal continues.
Aside from the tremendous stress involved in these legal battles, Flori has also been subjected to constant threats and taunts from former colleagues and anonymous members of the public.
One message posted just days ago on social media bet $100 that Flori would be dead before the end of the week. The chilling post was exposed on Flori’s Facebook page, which has more than 6,000 followers.
The brave former police officer says the overwhelming public support is very comforting, although the threats against him are unnerving.
Flori remains optimistic of a positive outcome, telling the media he is looking forward to the trial.
‘This is the justice system… I can’t wait for a jury to hear the full story.’
After the decision, Magistrate Michael Hogan asked Flori if he had anything to say to the court.
‘Not Guilty, replied Mr Flori.