Canada court sentences first suspect convicted under new anti-terrorism law

[JURIST] Ontario Superior Court [official website] Justice Douglas Rutherford Thursday sentenced [reasons for sentence, PDF] Ottawa software developer Mohammed Momin Khawaja [CBC profile] to 10.5 years in prison for his involvement in an alleged terrorist plot to bomb targets in the UK. Khawaja was convicted [JURIST report] in October 2008 of designing a remote detonator and providing other support to a group that was convicted in 2007 [JURIST report] of planning to detonate a large fertilizer bomb. In the sentencing decision, Rutherford wrote:

Having found Momin Khawaja guilty as indicated in the Reasons for Judgment ... I have concluded that he should be sentenced to a further term of ten and one-half years in penitentiary. ...

I outlined earlier why the sentencing in this case had to emphasize denunciation and repudiation of terrorism, had to punish such behavior, had to have both special and general deterrent impact, and had to protect society at large from the repetition of such misconduct. In light of that and in light of the absence of any indication that Momin Khawaja is in any way repentant for his misdeeds or willing to make amends and commit to future behavior that complies with Canada’s laws and values, I have really no option but to require that he serve half of the terms of two years or more before being eligible for full parole. That means he will not be eligible for full parole until serving at least 5 of the total of ten and one-half years. To order otherwise would, in my view, fail to adequately serve the interests of the expression of society’s denunciation of the offences [sic] and the objectives of specific and general deterrence.
Khawaja was found guilty of participating in a terrorist group, instructing a person to finance terrorism, making property available to terrorists, contributing to a terrorist group, and facilitating terrorism under Canada's controversial Anti-Terrorism Act [text; CBC backgrounder]. He was cleared of two other terrorism charges related to his intent to aid in a specific act of terrorism, but was convicted on related criminal charges for possession of and intent to use explosives. In June 2008, Khawaja pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges and his lawyer said the allegations were exaggerated and based on hearsay evidence that should have been excluded. In 2007, Canadian Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley refused to require the release of confidential evidence [JURIST report] against Khawaja, explaining that "disclosure of most of the information would be injurious to national security or to international relations." Khawaja was arrested [JURIST report] in March 2004, and was the first person to be charged and tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act.

 

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