The Crown really could care less about justice. This seems to be a face saving device because some of Crown evidence at the hearings was not holding up. So in spite of an agreement to have the hearings, the Crown without giving any grounds apparently just up and shut them down and will go direct to trial. That's Canadian justice when it comes to terrorism.
Tuesday » September 25 » 2007
14 terror accused will go directly to trial
Prosecutors suddenly end hearing
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
BRAMPTON - The case against 14 men who were arrested in Canada's largest terrorist sweep will go directly to trial, after federal prosecutors stunned the accused and their lawyers by suddenly stopping a preliminary hearing.
Many of the lawyers for the Toronto-area men accused of plotting to detonate truck bombs were "totally shocked" when Crown attorneys announced in the morning that they would be filing a direct indictment against their clients.
The preliminary hearing had been proceeding for almost four months.
Yesterday, Justice Peter Wilkie stayed all of the charges. The men were rearrested, recharged and will be subject to bail hearings before the case goes to trial.
A few of the accused are now facing new counts, while others had some charges dropped.
"It's a stain on the administration of justice to deprive these accused persons of their constitutional right to have an effective trial," said Paul Slansky, a defence lawyer, outside the crowded courtroom.
The federal Crown attorneys did not give reasons for the man-oeuvre. A ban prevents the publication of any evidence heard in court.
Defence lawyers charged that prosecutors may have filed the direct indictment out of a concern that some of the accused would be discharged after the preliminary hearing.
"We can't discount the political implications of this prosecution -- showing the world that we're tough on terrorists," said Raymond Motee, who represents Ibrahim Aboud.
For the state, this case tests Canada's ability, before a world audience, to find, seize and prosecute members of sleeper cells.
Since last year's terror sweep in which 18 suspects were rounded up, the charges against three of the youths have been stayed. Two men have been granted bail and defence lawyers were eagerly anticipating the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses and test the evidence during the preliminary hearing.
Michael Moon, the lawyer for one of the accused, Steven Chand, called the truncated preliminary hearing a "massive waste of taxpayers' money."
His client faces an additional charge: counselling to commit fraud for the benefit of a terrorist group. Mubin Shaikh, a police informant who infiltrated the alleged terrorist group, has previously said in media interviews that Mr. Chand is innocent.
Zakaria Amara, one of the suspected leaders of the group, is facing another charge of instructing a person to carry out a terrorist-related activity. Prosecutors dropped a charge of training at a militant camp in Northern Ontario against Jahmaal James but further accused him of receiving terrorist training in Pakistan. His lawyer, Donald McLeod, said that Mr. James visited to Pakistan to get married.
Also, Mohammed Dirie and Yasin Abdi Mohamed, two Toronto men who were arrested in 2005 for attempting to smuggle semi-automatic handguns into Ontario, each have one fewer charge: providing property to a terrorist organization.
Defence lawyers were surprised by the announcement to go directly to trial because they say the Crown attorneys had agreed not to proceed with a direct indictment; in exchange, the defence lawyers allowed it to enter certain evidence uncontested.
"Unlike any other scenario where a preferred indictment is imposed, in this case it is perfectly unique because there was a written, signed agreement," Mr. Sapiano said. "[The Crown] unilaterally violated that agreement."
Several of the defence counsel said they were considering their options for recourse.
However, the option to prefer a direct indictment is entirely at the Crown attorney's discretion, said James Stribopoulos, a law professor at York University's Osgoode Hall.
A large number of family members and friends of the accused filled the court gallery yesterday. "I thought we were coming to the end of this," said Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, the wife of the oldest accused, yesterday. Her four sons played around her, in front of the courthouse.
"The families who were getting ready, who were hearing from their lawyers that their boys were coming home... everyone is up in arms again, upset. What's happening now?"
The men are scheduled to reappear in court on Oct. 2.
THE CASE SO FAR:
June 2, 2006 Police raid suburban homes and apartments, apprehending 17 individuals and seizing firearms, computer hard drives, an electronic detonator and three tonnes of ammonium nitrate.
Aug. 3, 2006 An 18th man, Ibrahim Aboud, is arrested and charged with participating in a terrorist group. 2006: Two men are granted bail, Ahmad Mustafa Ghany and Ibrahim Aboud
June 4, 2007 A preliminary hearing for 14 men begins. February -August 2007: Three youths have their charges stayed. One youth remains in custody.
Sept. 24, 2007 The preliminary inquiry is quashed. The Ontario Attorney General opts for direct indictment. The men now face nine different charges; there were only six different counts when they were originally arrested.
Source: National Post
WHAT IS A DIRECT INDICTMENT?
If it is in the public's interest, the attorney-general or deputy attorney-general may send a case directly to trial without a preliminary inquiry or after an accused has been discharged at a preliminary inquiry.
WHEN CAN A DIRECT INDICTMENT BE FILED?
Direct indictments, though used sparingly, can be used when: - There is significant delay in bringing the matter to trial. - Proceedings against an accused should be expedited to ensure public confidence in the administration of justice. - The age, health or other circumstances relating to witnesses require evidence to be presented as soon as possible. - Holding a preliminary inquiry would unreasonably tax the prosecution or court's resources. - The lives or safety of witnesses or their families may be in peril before the trial. - An accused is discharged at a preliminary inquiry due to an error of law. - New evidence surfaces against an accused who has been discharged after a preliminary hearing or who has already been committed to trial.
WHEN HAS IT BEEN APPLIED?
2005: The case against Momin Khawaja, an Ottawa software developer who was the first person to be charged under Canada's anti-terror-ism legislation, went straight to trial.
1996: A direct indictment was filed during a prelimary inquiry for the "Just Desserts" shooting in Toronto where a 23-year-old hairdresser was killed during the armed robbery of a Just Desserts cafe. "The prelimary inquiry became very protracted and acrimonious, a decision was made at very senior levels to proceed with direct indictment," said law professor James Stribopoulos.
1994: The case against serial killer, Paul Bernardo, was sent directly to trial.
Source: National Post
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