The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Thursday declared that it would hear an appeal of convicted terrorist Mohammed Momin Khawaja [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The high court granted an application for leave to appeal [judgment, PDF] filed by Khawaja challenging the life sentence imposed by the Ontario Court of Appeals [official website]. Khawaja, the first person to be charged and tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act [text; CBC backgrounder], 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. When Ontario Superior Court [official website] Justice Douglas Rutherford sentenced Khawaja [reasons for sentence, PDF; JURIST report], prosecutors asked that he be given more than two life sentences. When Khawaja was sentenced to only 10.5 years, the Public Prosecution Service of Canada [official website] sought leave to appeal [press release], arguing that the sentence was too lenient. In addition to ruling on the length of the sentence, the Supreme Court will likely rule [CP report] on the constitutionality of the legal definition of "terrorist activity."
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. 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.