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Controversial Australian Political Leader Jailed for Electoral Fraud


One of Australia's most controversial political leaders, Pauline Hanson, has been jailed for three years for electoral fraud. The former leader of the anti-immigration One Nation Party had claimed the case against her was politically motivated. She was also found guilty of dishonestly obtaining more than $325,000 from election authorities.

Pauline Hanson, the former head of Australia's One Nation Party and former party director David Ettridge have been found guilty of electoral fraud.

A court in Brisbane has also found Hanson guilty of dishonestly obtaining almost $325,000 from the Queensland Electoral Commission. The money was used to pay for the campaigns of 11 of her supporters elected to the state parliament.

The 49-year-old former lawmaker had pleaded not guilty to fraudulently registering her party.

A jury found Hanson and Ettridge guilty on all counts after more than nine hours of deliberation. Her conviction will almost certainly prevent Hanson from running for Parliament again.

The prosecution in the three-week trial had insisted the pair lied to get the party registered in 1997. The defendants described the case against them as a "witch hunt" organized by their political opponents.

Hanson, a former fish-and-chip shop owner, entered Australian politics as an independent candidate in 1996. She campaigned vigorously against Asian immigration and government aid to aborigines.

Her plain spoken policies inflamed racist sentiment but won more than one million votes during that first campaign.

One Nation occupied the fringes on the right of Australian politics and its leader achieved notoriety because of her extreme views on the country's indigenous community and refugees.

Her supporters saw the twice-divorced mother of four as an inspirational leader, fighting for the rights of ordinary Australians. Her opponents saw her simply as a racist.

In the past few years, her party has fractured, and lost much of its support, and Hanson lost a campaign for the national Senate.

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