Councillor accused of nightclub assault could return to re-elect mayor

A Greens councillor accused of unleashing a homophobic tirade and assaulting a woman outside a nightclub could return to Yarra City Council after extended medical leave next week, in time to restore the party’s majority and ensure one of its members is re-elected as mayor.

The return of Anab Mohamud would defy the wishes of Victoria’s local government watchdog, whose request for Cr Mohamud to be banned from council duties until her cases are resolved is currently being assessed by the Supreme Court.

Greens councillor Anab Mohamud, who is accused of launching a homophobic tirade and assaulting a woman outside a gay nightclub.

If Cr Mohamud does not return from her medical leave as scheduled on Tuesday, the nine-member council’s vote for Yarra’s new mayor on November 15 could result in a stalemate.

Incumbent mayor Gabrielle di Vietri, whose party holds a razor-thin majority in Australia’s only Greens-led council, told The Age that Cr Mohamud was still considering the date of her return. Cr di Vietri did not say if she would oppose her colleague’s return.

“I’ll support her to take more leave if that’s what she needs to do,” Cr di Vietri said. “I believe Anab to be innocent and my concern at the moment is for her wellbeing.”

Since Cr Mohamud took medical leave in late July following the incident in which she sustained serious facial injuries outside a Chapel Street gay club, the council has been split into four Greens councillors, two independents and two affiliated with the Victorian Socialists.

Gabrielle di Vietri (centre) has led the nation’s only Greens-majority council over the past year.

Cr di Vietri’s casting vote will not apply in the mayoral election, meaning the four opposing councillors could block a Greens mayor from being elected.

If the vote is split four-four, council guidelines state the election must be either repeated until a majority backs one candidate or delayed, leaving Cr di Vietri in the role.

Previous rules where the stalemate would be broken by drawing a name out of a hat to break the stalemate have since been amended.

Cr Mohamud is also facing assault charges for a separate incident in December last year.

Two independent councillors fumed at the prospect of her return, telling The Age it would be inappropriate for her to return without a resolution to those allegations and the Local Government Inspectorate’s challenge in the Supreme Court.

On Friday, the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court ordered Cr Mohamud to return on April 26 to face three charges over the alleged incident in South Yarra. The new date confirmed the controversy surrounding the Greens councillor, a resident of Fitzroy’s Atherton Gardens public housing estate, will extend into 2022.

Several sworn statements provided by witnesses to police investigators accuse Cr Mohamud of instigating an altercation outside with another woman, before allegedly exclaiming “Allahu Akbar” and vowing to “make sure all these faggots die”.

The alleged altercation occurred outside Chasers nightclub, which hosts the popular LGBTQ dance party Poof Doof.

Independent councillor Herschel Landes (right) said it would be inappropriate for Cr Mohamud to return next week.Credit:Jason South

Independent councillor Herschel Landes, who moved a motion of no confidence against Cr Mohamud in July, said he was open-minded about the outcome of the mayoral vote but was firm in his belief that she should remain on leave.

“My view continues to be that it is not appropriate for Anab Mohamud to come back until such time as her situation has been dealt with either through the Supreme Court or Magistrates’ Court,” he said.

Socialist councillor Bridgid O’Brien agreed, saying Cr Mohamud’s return would “seem very opportunistic of the Greens”.

“It would be extremely inappropriate for her to come back for the mayoral vote, given she’s been away for so long and the Supreme Court hearing hasn’t been resolved,” she said.

Adding to the Greens’ headaches, if Cr Mohamud resigned from council, a countback would probably cause her party to permanently lose its majority because Labor’s Karen Douglas came fourth in Cr Mohamud’s ward.

Yarra Council will hold a regular meeting on Tuesday evening, where Cr Mohamud’s return from medical leave would mean that she will vote to re-elect a Greens mayor the next week – expected to result in a second term for Cr di Vietri.

Via the Victorian Greens Cr Mohamud has repeatedly said she was “working to clear her name against allegations that she instigated her own assault”.

Among several statements provided to police shortly after the incident, a security guard said that he called an ambulance and attempted to administer first aid to Cr Mohamud immediately after the incident in Bray Street.

“[Cr Mohamud] told me numerous times to ‘bring that bitch back, I’ll f— her up’. She has also yelled out various things, such as ‘f— the LG family’ and also said something in what I believe was in Arabic and not understandable, followed by words along the line of, ‘I swear to Allah if I lose my eye I will make sure all these faggots die’,” the guard alleges in a statement to police.

Police have since charged Cr Mohamud with assault, offensive behaviour and public drunkenness. A 29-year-old woman from St Kilda has also been charged with recklessly causing injury and affray, according to a Victoria Police spokeswoman.

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