Sri Lanka has faced numerous allegations of human rights violations originating from incidents that took place during the final months of the civil war. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] announced it had acquired new evidence [JURIST report] supporting allegations of war crimes. Also last month, the International Crisis Group (ICG) [official website] accused Sri Lankan security forces of war crimes [JURIST report], claiming that the violence of the 30-year civil war escalated in January 2009, leaving thousands more dead than projected by the UN. In March, Ban reaffirmed his plan to set up a UN panel [JURIST report] to investigate allegations of human rights violations during the civil war. Earlier in March, Rajapaksa rejected [JURIST report] Ban's plan to appoint a panel of experts to look into alleged rights abuses in the island nation's civil war, saying it "s totally uncalled for and unwarranted."
The mere fact of the destruction of Air India Flight 182 is the primary evidence that something went very, very wrong. For that, we are sorry. For that, and also for the years during which your legitimate need for answers and indeed, for empathy, were treated with administrative disdain.
At the service, which marked the 25th anniversary of the bombing, Harper also declared June 23 to be a national day of remembrance.
The 1985 bombing downed an Air India jetliner over the Atlantic and killed all 329 passengers, most of them Canadians. The bombing was the single largest terror attack against a Western target before the the 2001 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive] and resulted in the longest and most expensive trial in Canadian history. Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Sing Bagri were tried on charges of conspiracy to commit murder, first-degree murder of the passengers and crew of Air India Flight 182 and attempted murder of the passengers and crew. The suspects were acquitted on all charges [judgment; JURIST report] in 2005.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 8-0 in Morrison v. National Australia Bank [Cornell LII backgrounder] that the Securities and Exchange Act of 1934 (SEA) [text, PDF] does not provide a cause of action to foreign plaintiffs suing for misconduct occurring on foreign stock exchanges. The court held that, as a general rule, unless a statute specifically states that it applied extraterritorially, it only applies within the territorial jurisdiction of the US. The court upheld the ruling [opinion, PDF] of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit but found that the lower court had erred in its reasoning. The lower court had dismissed the claim brought under § 10(b) of the SEA due to a lack of subject matter jurisdiction [Cornell LII backgrounder] because the majority of the activity the plaintiff was suing for had occurred outside of US jurisdiction. In rejecting this rationale, the Supreme Court stated that what conduct § 10(b) covered was not a jurisdiction question but a merits one, over which the lower courts have jurisdiction. Despite this, the court held that the case should still be dismissed for the failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted [FRCP 12(b)(6) text] because of the lack of extraterritoriality in § 10(b). In affirming the decision of the lower court, Justice Antonin Scalia stated:
Section 10(b) reaches the use of a manipulative or deceptive device or contrivance only in connection with the purchase or sale of a security listed on an American stock exchange, and the purchase or sale of any other security in the United States. This case involves no securities listed on a domestic exchange, and all aspects of the purchases complained of by those petitioners who still have live claims occurred outside the United States. Petitioners have therefore failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted. We affirm the dismissal of petitioners' complaint on this ground.
Justice John Paul Stevens filed a concurring opinion, which Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined. In his concurrence, Stevens agreed with the judgment but criticized the scope of the court's reasoning, stating:
The Court instead elects to upend a significant area of securities law based on a plausible, but hardly decisive, construction of the statutory text. In so doing, it pays short shrift to the United States' interest in remedying frauds that transpire on American soil or harm American citizens, as well as to the accumulated wisdom and experience of the lower courts. I happen to agree with the result the Court reaches in this case. But "I respectfully dissent," once again, "from the Court's continuing campaign to render the private cause of action under § 10 (b) toothless."
Justice Stephen Breyer also filed a concurring opinion, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor did not take part in the case.
The lawsuit was brought by Australian shareholders of the National Australia Bank [corporate website]. The bank purchased a mortgage servicing company based in Florida in 1998 and devalued the listed assets of that company three years later. The shareholders bought stock in National Australia Bank on a foreign stock exchange before the devaluation and brought suit against the bank, alleging that its officers had deliberately manipulated financial models in order to make its mortgage servicing rights appear more valuable. The court heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] in the case in March and granted certiorari [JURIST report] in November.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] in Skilling v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that the "honest services" doctrine [18 USC § 1346 text] is not unconstitutionally vague under a limited construction of the statute and that the district court adequately "detected and diffused" juror prejudice in the pre-trial publicity of former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling [JURIST news archives]. The court subsequently reversed and remanded the conviction of Canadian media mogul Conrad Black [JURIST news archive] and former Alaskan congressmen Bruce Weyhrauch, after the court held in Skilling that the honest service statute was limited to bribery and kickbacks. Under Part I of the opinion in Skilling, the court ruled that pre-trial publicity and community prejudice did not prevent Skilling from having a fair trial because Houston, where the trial was held, had a large pool of jurors and was not subjected to "blatantly" prejudiced news. The court also noted that the jurors displayed their ability to be impartial by acquitting Skilling of nine insider trading counts. In Part II of the opinion, the court limited the honest services doctrine to the protection of intangible rights of honest service deprived through bribery and kickbacks and vacated Skilling's conviction under the statute since his misconduct did not fall under either category. The court refused the government's request to include "undisclosed self-dealing by a public official or private employee" under the statute. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, writing the opinion for the court, defended the court's interpretation of the honest services statute:
Interpreted to encompass only bribery and kickback schemes, § 1346 is not unconstitutionally vague. A prohibition on fraudulently depriving another of one's honest services by accepting bribes or kickbacks presents neither a fair-notice nor an arbitrary-prosecution problem. As to fair notice, it has always been clear that bribes and kickbacks constitute honest-services fraud, and the statute's mens rea requirement further blunts any notice concern. As to arbitrary prosecutions, the Court perceives no significant risk that the honest-services statute, as here interpreted, will be stretched out of shape. Its prohibition on bribes and kickbacks draws content not only from [precedent] case law, but also from federal statutes proscribing and defining similar crimes.
The court concluded that its determination to vacate Skilling's conviction under the honest services doctrine does not necessarily require reversal of the conspiracy conviction, which it remanded for harmless error review. The justices voted unanimously to vacate Skilling's conviction, but Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy would have ruled that the honest services statute is unconstitutional. Scalia and Kennedy both wrote concurring opinions. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. In her dissent, joined by Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer, Sotomayor disagreed with the court's conclusion that Skilling had a fair trial before an impartial jury.
Justice Ginsburg also authored Thursday's opinion [text, PDF] in Black v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report], which vacated the conviction of the former chairman and CEO of Hollinger International Inc. under the honest services doctrine. In 2007, Black was convicted of mail fraud and obstruction of justice and sentenced [JURIST reports] to 78 months in prison. The Seventh Circuit rejected [opinion, PDF; JURIST report] Black's appeal, holding that § 1346 may be applied in a private setting regardless of whether the defendant's conduct risked any foreseeable economic harm to the victim. The Supreme Court held that Black had properly objected to the jury instructions at trial concerning the honest service doctrine and remanded the case to the circuit court for an opinion consistent with the judgment in Skillings. The judgment to vacate Black's conviction was unanimous, but both Scalia and Thomas wrote separate concurring opinions.
In the final "honest service" decision this session, the Supreme Court issued a per curiam opinion [text, PDF] in Weyhrauch v. United States [Cornell LII backgrounder], vacating the Ninth Circuit ruling [opinion, PDF] that no state law violation is required in a federal honest services mail fraud prosecution under 18 USC §§ 1341 and 1346 and remanded the case for further consideration in light of Skilling.The case involves former Alaska state representative Bruce Weyhrauch and whether he should have disclosed that he was seeking legal work from oil company Veco Corp. while he was voting on an oil tax.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 8-1 in Doe #1 v. Reed [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that the First Amendment [text] does not bar a state from releasing identifying information about petitioner signers where there is a sufficiently compelling state interest. The case arose over an order to publish the names of those who signed a Washington state petition to overturn a state law [JURIST report] giving same-sex partners the same rights as married partners. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that the names should be released, but the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay [JURIST report] in October. Chief Justice John Roberts, delivering the opinion of the court, affirmed the Ninth Circuit's ruling holding that the state had a compelling interest in limiting speech, stating:
The State's interest in preserving the integrity of the electoral process is undoubtedly important. "States allowing ballot initiatives have considerable leeway to protect the integrity and reliability of the initiative process, as they have with respect to election processes generally" The State's interest is particularly strong with respect to efforts to root out fraud, which not only may produce fraudulent outcomes, but has a systemic effect as well: It "drives honest citizens out of the democratic process and breeds distrust of our government."
Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a concurring opinion advocating for the use of a balancing test and was joined by Justice Stephen Breyer, who also wrote a concurring opinion. Justice Samuel Alito wrote a concurring opinion indicating that he would rule in favor of the petitioners in an as-applied challenge to the Washington state law. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Stevens and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, wrote a concurring opinion arguing that the state law should be upheld on the basis of federalism principles. Justice Antonin Scalia also wrote a concurring opinion arguing that the First Amendment does not prohibit public disclosure of the information. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissenting opinion arguing that release of the information would stifle speech and discourage participation in state's referendum process.
During oral arguments, counsel for the petitioners argued [JURIST report] that, "[n]o person should suffer harassment for participating in our political system, and the First Amendment protects citizens from intimidation resulting from compelled disclosure of their identity and beliefs and their private associations." Counsel for the state of Washington argued that the names can be made public. Thursday's ruling addressed a broad application of the state law, but still allowed the as-applied challenge to the law, which is currently pending before a district court, to proceed.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] 5-4 in Magwood v. Patterson [Cornell LII backgrounder] that a federal habeas corpus petition is not "second or successive" when a new judgment intervenes between it and a previous petition. Federal law [28 USC § 2244(b) text] bars the filling of a "second or successive" habeas petition when that claim was made or could have been made in the previous petition. Under the law, if the petition is "second or successive," the petitioner must be granted leave from the court of appeals before filing in the district court. In its ruling, the Supreme Court rejected the state's argument that the statute functioned as a "one opportunity" rule, barring a second habeas petition where the petitioner could have raised the same claim during the first habeas petition. Although the term "second or successive" is not defined in the statute, the court held that case law and "statutory context" indicate that the law was meant only to apply to repeat habeas petitions made on the same judgment. The court went on to reject the state's argument that its interpretation was in line with the statute's purpose, finding that the court "cannot replace the actual text with speculation as to Congress' intent." In reversing the decision of the lower court and remanding the case, Justice Clarence Thomas explained:
Ironically, in an effort to effectuate what they believe is Congress' intent not to give any unfair benefit to habeas petitioners, the State and the dissent propose an alternative rule that would "close our doors to a class of habeas petitioners seeking review without any clear indication that such was Congress' intent." Many examples can be given, but one suffices to illustrate this point. Suppose that a petitioner files an application raising 10 meritorious claims challenging his conviction. The district court grants a conditional writ based on one of them, without reaching the remaining nine. Upon retrial, the state court commits the same 10 legal mistakes. ... Is an application presenting those same 10 claims - now based on the errors in the new judgment - "second or successive"? Under the opportunity-based rule advanced by the State and the dissent, the answer must be yes.
Justice Anthony Kennedy filed a dissenting opinion, which was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Samuel Alito. In his dissent, Kennedy criticized the majority's opinion for violating the purpose of the law, stating: "The Court ... reaches this conclusion by misreading precedents on the meaning of the phrase 'second or successive.' ... The Court then rewrites [the law's] text but refuses to grapple with the logical consequences of its own editorial judgment." Justice Stephen Breyer filed a concurring opinion, which was joined by Justices John Paul Stevens and Sonia Sotomayor.
Petitioner Billy Joe Magwood was sentenced to death for murdering a county sheriff in 1979. The US District Court for the Middle District of Alabama conditionally granted the petitioner's writ on his original death sentence in 1985, ordering the state either to release or resentence him. Magwood was later sentenced to death for a second time. He challenged the second sentence and was again granted conditional relief, but the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit overturned [opinion, PDF] the decision after finding that his claim should have been raised in the first petition. The court heard oral arguments [transcript, PDF; JURIST report] in the case in March after granting certiorari [JURIST report] in November.
[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Thursday ruled [opinion, PDF] in Granite Rock Co. v. International Brotherhood of Teamsters [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report] that federal courts have jurisdiction to determine if a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was formed between parties. The court also ruled that § 301(a) of the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) [text] supports a federal cause of action only for breach of contract claims and not claims of tortious interference of contract. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed [opinion, PDF] the district court's dismissal of a claim against the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) for tortious interference with a CBA between Granite Rock and Local Union 287. The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit had reversed the district court with respect to whether a federal court has jurisdiction to determine when a CBA was formed, holding that the issue should be determined in arbitration. Justice Clarence Thomas, delivering the opinion of the court, affirmed with regards to the tort claim, but reversed the Ninth Circuit with regard to jurisdiction over the CBA, holding:
[A] court may order arbitration of a particular dispute only where the court is satisfied that the parties agreed to arbitrate that dispute. To satisfy itself that such agreement exists, the court must resolve any issue that calls into question the formation or applicability of the specific arbitration clause that a party seeks to have the court enforce. Where there is no provision validly committing them to an arbitrator, these issues typically concern the scope of the arbitration clause and its enforceability. In addition, these issues always include whether the clause was agreed to, and may include when that agreement was formed. ...This simple framework compels reversal of the Court of Appeals judgment because it requires judicial resolution of two questions central to [respondent's] arbitration demand: when the CBA was formed, and whether its arbitration clause covers the matters [respondent] wishes to arbitrate.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justice John Paul Stevens, filed a separate opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part.
During oral arguments, counsel for the petitioner argued for a plain meaning [JURIST report] interpretation of the LMRA, calling the enforcement of contracts the "central mission of the statute." Counsel for the respondent argued that the petitioner was advocating a drastic change in the way labor issues were settled. Monday's ruling is likely to have broad implications in future labor and contract negotiations.
[JURIST] UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Wednesday criticized plans to demolish 22 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem [GlobalSecurity backgrounder], describing them as contrary to international law. The plans, called King's Garden, were approved Monday [YNet report] by the Jerusalem City Council [official website] and will remove the buildings in order to make way for an archaeological park in the neighborhood of Silwan, a mostly Palestinian neighborhood of 45,000 people. In addition to the demolition of the 22 homes, the plan would retroactively approve 66 others, which were initially slated for destruction due to their illegal construction. Ban described the plans as contrary to international law, under which East Jerusalem is considered occupied territory, and expressed concern for the settlement activities that are continuing in the area. Ban also stated that the plans would increase tensions in the city and threaten peace talks. The plans have also been criticized [Haaretz report] by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak [official website, in Hebrew] and the US State Department [official website]. The re-unified Jerusalem was declared the Israeli capital in 1980. East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control along with the West Bank until the 1967 war [NPR backgrounder], when Israel took control over the territory from Jordan and took the Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder] from Egyptian control.
Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged the Israeli government to stop demolishing Palestinian homes [JURIST report] found to be constructed illegally in the Occupied Territories [UNICEF backgrounder], which is considered by the UN to include East Jerusalem. AI cited incidents over the past five years where Israeli forces demolished Palestinian homes and schools, leaving more than 600 Palestinians homeless. According to AI, the demolitions violate the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) [text, PDF], which guarantees a right to housing without discrimination, and the Fourth Geneva Convention [text], which prohibits destruction of property without military necessity. According to the group, the UN has unsuccessfully called for Israel to put an end to the demolition practice on many occasions and estimates that some 4,800 demolition orders are pending. Property rights have been an invariable point of contention between Israel and Palestinians. In March, Ban called Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank "illegal" [JURIST report]. His statement came two weeks after Israel announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their future state. Ban voiced his support for the proposed plan of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad [BBC profile] to build the institutions of an independent state by 2011 and called for the immediate resumption of peace talks to result in an independent Palestinian state within two years.
[JURIST] A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed a suit [opinion, PDF] filed [JURIST report] by US entertainment company Viacom against Google, accusing if of allowing copyrighted material on its YouTube service [corporate websites] without permission. Judge Louis Stanton of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] issued the summary judgment, stating that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) [text, PDF] requires Google and YouTube to have more than a "general awareness" that videos might be posted illegally in order to be found liable. Stanton held that the DMCA provides a "safe harbor" period for the removal of copyrighted content after notice is given of the violation and stated that there was no dispute that when YouTube was given the notices by Viacom, it removed the material:
Mere knowledge of prevalence of such activity in general is not enough. The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity. ... [W]hen they received specific notice that a particular item infringed a copyright, they swiftly removed it. It is uncontroverted that all the clips in suit are off the YouTube website, most having been removed in response to DMCA takedown notices. ... [Google] is thus protected from liability.
Google called the judgment an "important victory" [press release] for individuals who use file-sharing services like YouTube "to communicate and share experiences with each other." Viacom stated that the ruling is "fundamentally flawed" [press release] and is contrary to the language of the DCMA and recent Supreme Court decisions. Viacom will appeal the decision.
Google is also facing several potential privacy lawsuits for collecting and storing data obtained over unsecured wireless networks for its Street View maps [website]. The UK, Australia and Canada [JURIST reports] have all launched investigations into Google's unsecured Wi-Fi data collection to determine whether Google has violated the countries' privacy laws. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal [official profile] announced Monday that he will lead a multistate investigation [JURIST report] against Google and requested additional detailed information from the company on its data harvesting procedures. Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Switzerland have also asked Google to retain data collected in those respective nations. In a letter [text, PDF] sent last week to the US House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee [official website], Google claimed that its collection of private information was inadvertent and did not violate any laws [JURIST report].
[JURIST] A ballot initiative [text, PDF] aimed at suspending California's Global Warming Solutions Act (AB32) [materials] qualified on Tuesday for California's November ballot, setting the stage for a debate over environmental policy and its impact on the economy. The initiative, known as the California Jobs Initiative, has been partially funded by oil companies Valero Energy and Tesoro Corp [corporate websites] and, if passed, would suspend implementation of AB32 or any other regulation on carbon emissions until the unemployment rate within the state is at or below 5.5 percent for one year. AB32, signed into law in 2006 [JURIST report], seeks to return greenhouse gas emission [JURIST news archive] levels in the state to 1990 levels by 2020 through a series of regulations on automobiles, oil refineries and other industrial polluters. The law would also require that one-third of the energy used within the state come from a renewable source such as wind or solar energy. Proponents of the initiative contend that it is necessary [LAT report] during the current economic downturn in order to prevent further job loss within the state and to prevent a rise in utility and fuel rates. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger [official website] reiterated his support for AB32 and condemned the initiative [press release], stating:
This initiative sponsored by greedy Texas oil companies would cripple California's fastest growing economic sector, reverse our renewable energy policy and decimate our environmental progress for the benefit of these oil companies' profit margins. I will not allow this to happen on my watch. We will continue moving this state forward with our comprehensive energy policy that creates jobs, reduces our reliance on foreign oil and ensures the California we love will be the California we hand over to the next generation.
There has been debate over the effect AB32 would have on the job market, although the non-partisan state Legislative Analyst's Office [official website] found that the law would result in an increase in some job markets [report] with losses in others. The regulations associated with AB32 are currently scheduled to go into effect in 2012.
The California debate could have an effect on current federal efforts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. Earlier this month, the US Senate [official website] defeated a resolution [materials; JURIST report] aimed at limiting the ability of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [official website] to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act [materials]. The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] affirmed the EPA's ability to regulate carbon emissions under the Clear Air Act in its 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency [Cornell LII backgrounder; JURIST report]. In its ruling, the court held that if the EPA could show a link between greenhouse gas emissions and public health and welfare, then the act gives it the power to regulate emissions. The EPA announced last December [JURIST report] that it had found that greenhouse gases "threaten the public health and welfare of current and future generations," and that emissions from motor vehicles contribute to greenhouse gas pollution. The EPA first announced its proposed finding [JURIST report] in April before undertaking a 60-day public comment period. Some have suggested that the EPA findings have allowed Congress to avoid the political fallout [JURIST comment] that could come from passing tough climate legislation.
[JURIST] A judge in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Wednesday approved a settlement agreement [overview, PDF; materials] between New York City and 10,000 rescue and cleanup workers who became sick or injured from responding to the 9/11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. Judge Alvin Hellerstein approved the deal [CNN report] after a hearing to determine its acceptability and urged the plaintiffs to agree to it as well. The deal would distribute between USD $625 million and $712.5 million, depending on how many plaintiffs agree to the deal. The city's insurer, WTC Captive Insurance Company [official website], offered the deal after its previous offers of $575 million and $657.5 million were rejected. The plaintiffs' lawyers will also reduce their legal fees from 33.33 percent to a maximum of 25 percent, giving their clients an extra $50 million. The funds will be distributed [NYT report] between the plaintiffs by a claims administrator who will determine the amount received by each based on the severity of the illness and how strongly the health condition can be linked to the cleanup. The agreement must be accepted by 95 percent of the 10,000 workers before September 30 in order to become effective.
The agreement was first proposed [JURIST report] earlier this month, following two failed settlement attempts between the parties. Hellerstein rejected a proposed settlement [JURIST report] in March, citing an unfairness of claim amounts and the over-complicated process to determine compensation. Hellerstein also said that attorney's fees should be limited and paid by the WTC Captive Insurance Company, rather than by the claimants. WTC Captive is a nonprofit company created by Public Law 108-7 [text, PDF] with $1 billion in FEMA [official website] funding to compensate injured workers involved in the Ground Zero rescue and cleanup efforts. In 2007, the city agreed to enter into settlement negotiations over a federal class action lawsuit filed on behalf of more than 9,000 emergency and cleanup workers who may have inhaled toxic dust at World Trade Center site, which Hellerstein allowed to proceed [JURIST reports]. The plaintiffs claim that they were not properly equipped or trained to perform their tasks.
[JURIST] A Canadian court on Wednesday convicted [press release] the final two members of the "Toronto 18" [Toronto Star backgrounder; JURIST news archive] for their roles in a 2006 terror plot. The Toronto 18 were arrested in 2006 after police learned of their plans to bomb sites throughout Ontario using fertilizer explosives in response to Canada's military involvement in Afghanistan. A jury in the Ontario Superior Court [official website] found Asad Ansari and Steven Vikash Chand guilty of "participation in a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Chand was also found guilty of "counseling to commit fraud over $5,000 for the benefit of a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, after attempting to take out fraudulent bank loans [CBC report] in order to support the group. The men have 30 days to consider an appeal, and sentencing will take place at a later date. This trial marks the first time Canadian terrorism suspects were tried in front of a jury instead of a judge.
Chand and Ansari were on trial with accused group leader Fahim Ahmad, who switched his plea to guilty mid-trial [JURIST report]. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) [official website] confirmed that Ahmad pleaded guilty in May to one count of "instructing to carry out activity for a terrorist group," importing firearms to benefit the group and "participation in a terrorist group," which can carry a maximum life sentence. Ahmad also pleaded guilty to "participation in a terrorist group," which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. In February, Toronto 18 member Shareef Abdelhaleem was convicted [JURIST report] after a Canadian judge found no evidence of entrapment. In January, Amin Mohamed Durrani was released [JURIST report] after pleading guilty to participating in and assisting a terrorist group. Also in January, Zakaria Amara and Saad Gaya [JURIST op-ed] were sentenced [JURIST report] to life and 12 years in prison, respectively, for their roles in the plot. Seven others involved in the plot pleaded guilty, two were found guilty by a judge at trial and seven others had their charges dropped or stayed.
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