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Rebels bikies’ boss Alex Vella loses court bid to challenge visa ban

Motorcyle club president Alex Vella unable to return to Australia after Federal Court judges dismiss his challenge

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
23 April 2015, 4:52pm
Alex Vella, national president of the Rebels MC Australia
Alex Vella, national president of the Rebels MC Australia
Three Federal Court judges have upheld the Australian government’s visa ban on Maltese migrant Alex Vella, the president of the Rebels motorcycle club, prohibiting him from returning to the country.

Vella, 61, is in Malta after Australia’s immigration minister turned down a visa for his return to the country last year, on the basis of “reasonable suspicion”  that he did not pass the character test.

The decision, which dismissed Vella’s challenge against the travel ban, strands him in Malta, leaving behind in Australia 24 close family members including a wife, sons and an elderly mother, all of whom are Australian citizens.

Vella was challenging a decision by the Australian government to cancel his visa on that.

[WATCH] Alex Vella - President of the rebels

In a preliminary ruling, he failed to convince the federal court that evidence by immigration officials that led to the visa ban, be exhibited in court. The Federal Court dismissed Vella’s claims that the minister’s refusal to publish confidential correspondence upon which he decided to cancel his visa, was unconstitutional, and said the immigration minister had proved at law that the information passed on to him was protected against disclosure.

In the final part of Vella’s claim, the court dismissed his lawyer’s application challenging the legal basis for the travel ban.

Alessio Emanuel Vella was born in 1953, the seventh in a family of 11 children. In 1967, his parents moved to Australia after five of his elder brothers had moved there, where his family ran a strawberry farm. He started the Rebels Motorcycle Club in Dubbo in 1973 and since then has made a living in property and real estate.

Vella has described the Rebels MC as a family of friends who love motorcycles and the lifestyle, and that they have been targeted by ‘anti-bikie’ laws forbidding their association simply because they are outside social norms.

But Australia’s Attero police task force – established in 2012 to ‘disrupt, disable and dismantle criminal activities of the Rebels MC – claims that Vella has overseen the expansion of the Rebels outlaw motorcycle gang from three chapters into the largest one in Australia.

According to court documents obtained by Daily Mail Australia, Minister Scott Morrison’s decision relied on detailed intelligence provided by an Australian Crime Commission-led task force and outlined in a document tendered in the federal court last month.

Attero investigators claim that under Vella’s leadership the Rebels have engaged in drug dealing, money laundering, serious assaults, kidnapping, extortion, firearms offences, threatening law enforcement officers and intimidation of court witnesses. It is believed the gang has more than 2,000 members across the country.

Vella has denied running a criminal organisation.

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.