From CTV News
A jury has found two men accused in an alleged plot to derail a Via passenger train guilty on eight of nine terror-related charges.
Both Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for the benefit of or in association with a terror group. Jaser was found guilty on two counts and Esseghaier on three counts of participating in or contributing to the activity of a terror group.
Esseghaier was also found guilty of conspiring to damage transportation property with intent to danger safety for the benefit of or in association with a terror group. The jury could not reach a consensus on the same charge for Jaser, and so the presiding judge declared a mistrial on that count.
The jury arrived at its verdict after 10 days of deliberations. Jurors returned to court six times to ask questions.
Earlier in the day, the jury had said they were deadlocked on one charge.
Presiding Justice Michael Code told them that he could accept unanimous verdicts on the eight other charges and discharge the ninth.
After they delivered their verdict, Code thanked jurors for their “focused, diligent and conscientious work” during the trial. They then filed out of the courtroom.
Outside court, prosecutor Croft Michaelson thanked the jurors for devoting “so much time and effort” to hearing the case, and U.S. authorities that helped with the investigation.
In particular, he hailed the efforts of an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the plot.
“The case turned on his investigative efforts,” Michaelson told reporters.
He described the two accused as “really serious public dangers.”
Michaelson said he would decide in the coming weeks whether to retry Jaser on the one discharged count, but also said he was happy with the eight convictions.
The jury clearly believed Jaser had agreed to commit murder, but some were obviously not sure that he had agreed to derail a train, Michaelson said.
Jaser and Esseghaier were arrested in 2013 following an extensive investigation into the alleged plot target a Via passenger train as it travelled between Canada and the United States.
Jaser’s defence team said their client did not have criminal intentions, and faked his interest in the plot in order to get money from Esseghaier and another man who was, in fact, an undercover FBI agent.
Esseghaier did not participate in the trial on the grounds that he wanted to be judged according to the tenets of the Qur’an. He did not stand in court as the verdicts were read. (~My Note~ He did, however, give the jury a note asking them to apply the Qur’an to every aspect of their life and prepare for “judgment day.” Too bad for him that Canada does not have Sharia Law. That has already been voted on a few years ago and turned down by all of Canada’s political parties! It’s Canadian Law and that’s it Ahab!)
On Wednesday, the jury said it had reached a verdict for one of the two men, but were unable to reach a consensus on all charges against the other.
They were sent back to continue their deliberations.
John Norris, Jaser’s defence lawyer, said his client is “disappointed with the ultimate outcome” of the trial, but said the jury did “exceptional work.”
To a question about the jury’s inability to reach a verdict on one count against his client, Norris said “they clearly struggled with reaching verdicts. In today’s political climate, that couldn’t have been easy.”
Justice Minister Peter MacKay wouldn’t comment directly on the verdicts Friday, citing the possibility that an appeal could be filed, but he said that the trial was “indicative of the complexity of a case of this nature involving terrorism.”
“It highlights something that is undeniable that’s happening in our country and that is…this is a very real threat,” he told CTV’s Power Play. “This is not something theoretical or mythical, created by the government or the media.”
Esseghaier and Jaser will next appear in court on April 10.
Thanks to the FBI for helping get these two terrorists! Without the help we would have seen many innocent people killed.
This is the exact reason why the Harper Gov’t. is putting in Bill C-51, the government’s proposed anti-terrorism legislation. The government argues the proposed new provisions are needed to combat the threat of homegrown terrorism in the wake of two murders of Canadian soldiers last October.
The bill would also make it easier for police to limit the movements of a suspect, expand no-fly list powers and take aim at terrorist propaganda.
In addition, it would allow much greater sharing of federally held information about activity that “undermines the security of Canada.”
WE need to be able to rely on our own intelligence agency and law enforcement to combat these types of threats to Canadians. We can’t be relying on the USA to always be there to do it.
Hope these two get what they deserve in prison….. 25 years is a long time and being sent back to their birth places forever is even longer. Though if they’ve done criminal activity there….they could be facing even tougher and harsher jail terms.