The Supreme Court of Canada [official website] on Monday began reviewing the case of Mohammed Momin Khawaja [CBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive]. The review will mainly focus on the constitutionality of the term "terrorist activity" in the Anti-Terrorism Act [text; CBC backgrounder]. The defense lawyer argued that the motive clause is unconstitutional due to its overbroad and vague nature and thus, a new trial should be ordered. Additionally, the court will also review the principles underlying the sentence for terrorism crimes. Khawaja was the first person to be charged and tried under the Anti-Terrorism Act. Ontario Superior Court [official website] Justice Douglas Rutherford convicted [JURIST report] him on seven counts related to a plot to bomb targets in the UK. He was accused of designing a remote detonator and providing other support to a group that was convicted [JURIST report] in 2007 of planning to detonate a large fertilizer bomb. He had been initially sentenced [reasons for sentence, PDF; JURIST report] to 10.5 years imprisonment but it was later changed to life imprisonment based on the Public Prosecution Service of Canada [official website] argument that the original sentence was too lenient.
The review comes after the court announced [JURIST report] that it granted an application for leave to appeal [judgment, PDF] filed by Khawaja. He 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 2008, Khawaja pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to the charges. In 2007, Canadian Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley [official profile] 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 in 2004.