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Canada Denies Suspects Defense Against Media Smears

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    Bizarre allegations about Toronto 18, unorthodox decisions are raising questions about Crown s case Terror trial proceedings troubling Thomas Walkom Sep 25,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 3, 2007
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      Bizarre allegations about Toronto 18, unorthodox
      decisions are raising questions about Crown's case


      Terror trial proceedings troubling
      Thomas Walkom
      Sep 25, 2007
      http://www.thestar.com/article/260191


      Ottawa's abrupt decision to cancel a preliminary
      inquiry into Canada's most spectacular post-9/11
      terror allegations and instead move directly to trial
      raises new and troubling questions.

      Everything about the case of the so-called Toronto 18
      is shrouded in mystery. Evidence raised in court,
      either at bail hearings or the preliminary hearing, is
      covered by a publication ban. But this hasn't
      prevented the public from knowing allegations against
      14 adults and four juveniles that are so bizarre as to
      be almost unbelievable.

      The Crown claims that at one point the alleged Islamic
      terrorists were plotting to cut off Prime Minister
      Stephen Harper's head – but changed their minds
      because they weren't sure where Parliament Hill was.

      It also claims some of the 18 attended a Keystone
      Kops-style military training camp at Washago north of
      Toronto where, it seems, they spent most of their time
      complaining about the cold.

      Shortly after charges were levelled, the Star reported
      the government case rested on two informants. One,
      whose name cannot be published, is said to have been
      paid $4 million by the government. He was apparently a
      central figure in an alleged plot to make a fertilizer
      bomb. A second informant, Mubin Shaikh, decided to go
      public. Now you can't shut him up. He's been
      interviewed by the Star, the National Post, the Los
      Angeles Times, the CBC and most recently the BBC.

      A former army cadet, Shaikh says he is the man who ran
      the alleged Washago terror training camp. In spite of
      the publication ban, he's been happy to tell the world
      everything he knows and much that he doesn't –
      including his opinion of one of the alleged
      ringleaders ("an effing time bomb").

      In one interview, Shaikh claimed the alleged plotters
      planned to start a Chechen-style Muslim resistance
      movement in Northern Ontario, a region of the country
      with few Muslims and even fewer Chechens.

      In April, in a completely unrelated case, Toronto
      police charged Shaikh with assault and threatening
      bodily harm after he allegedly attacked two
      12-year-old girls.

      He was in the middle of testifying in the terror case
      when the Crown shut down the preliminary hearing into
      the case of the 14 adults and announced it wanted to
      move directly to trial. (Charges have already been
      stayed against three of the four juveniles, which
      means that they are effectively off the hook).

      Defence lawyers for the alleged terrorists are ticked.
      It's hard to blame them. The whole reason for a
      preliminary hearing is to determine whether there is
      enough evidence to warrant trial and, more important,
      to give the defence a chance to hear the Crown's case.
      Defence lawyers say they made concessions in return
      for the right to cross-examine witnesses like Shaikh.

      Now they won't have a chance to test his widely
      publicized allegations until the trial.
      By itself, a decision to avoid preliminary hearings
      and move directly to trial is not unusual. The
      government has done so in other high-profile criminal
      cases.

      But usually, the Crown makes up its mind at the
      beginning; it does not normally change gears halfway
      through.

      Which leaves us to ask: Was something about to be
      revealed in court that the government didn't want
      anyone to hear?

      Was the Crown getting nervous about its informants?
      Is there some other reason?

      If I'd attended the preliminary hearing, I might know
      the answers to these questions. But then I wouldn't be
      able to report them.

      So you'll have to wait for the next leak – or the next
      overseas media interview with one of the government's
      star witnesses. Perhaps CNN will call up Mubin Shaikh.

      *********************************************************************

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