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Melbourne men plead guilty to planned 'foreign incursion' to the Philippines

ABC News logo ABC News 22/02/2019

The men planned to sail from Cape York to the Philippines. © ABC News The men planned to sail from Cape York to the Philippines.

Six Melbourne men have pleaded guilty to planning to sail to the Philippines to encourage Muslim militants to stage a government overthrow.

The men bought a boat and planned to sail from Cape York, in far north Queensland, to the southern Philippines in mid-2016.

The men have pleaded guilty in the Supreme Court in Melbourne, where four of the men are expected to be sentenced later today.

The group spoke in code, adopted aliases and sought bank loans to fund a "foreign incursion", documents filed with the Supreme Court reveal.

Documents lodged by prosecutors said Robert Cerantonio, Shayden Thorne, Paul Dacre, Antonino Granata, Kadir Kaya and Murat Kaya "agreed to encourage acts [directed to] overthrow by force or violence the government of the southern Philippines" between October 2015 and May 2016.

The prosecution said each of the men "had an affinity with Islamic extremism", particularly Cerantonio, who had spent a year living in the Philippines and was said to be the group's "leader and religious adviser".

Court documents said he supported Islamic State hostilities in Iraq and Syria and advocated for sharia law.

The men had purchased a four-wheel drive and used it to tow their boat to Cape York.

They had also bought survival gear and navigational equipment, and had drawn maps of the seas on their route.

More to come.

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