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Community Bails Out Canadian Detainee

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    Release raises doubts about terrorism case Eldest of 18 suspects granted bail after 17 months in jail Melissa Leong National Post, With Files From Jordana
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 1, 2007
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      Release raises doubts about terrorism case
      Eldest of 18 suspects granted bail after 17 months in jail

      Melissa Leong
      National Post, With Files From Jordana Huber, CanWest News Service,
      And Catherine McDonald, Global News

      TORONTO - The bail release of Qayyum Abdul Jamal, the eldest of 18
      accused in Canada's largest terrorist sweep, has raised questions
      about the strength of the Crown's case against the suspects.

      Mr. Jamal, 44, once described as a spiritual leader to some of the
      young men who allegedly belonged to an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist
      cell, was released on Monday, 17 months after his arrest.

      So far in the landmark case, which is regarded as a test of the
      state's ability to catch and prosecute terrorists, the charges against
      three of the youths have been stayed. Mr. Jamal was initially
      implicated in a plot to bomb buildings, but that charge was dropped in
      September. He remains charged with participating in a terrorist group
      and providing or receiving terrorist training.

      "At the early stages, the Crown's case tends, sometimes, to look its
      best. That's because at the early stages, the Crown does not have to
      prove it. They are just allegations," said James Stribopoulos, a law
      professor at York University's Osgoode Hall.

      "It is not uncommon with the passage of time, with the ability of the
      defence to gain access to full disclosure, with the testing of
      evidence at a preliminary inquiry, for the truth to emerge that the
      Crown's case isn't quite as strong as originally believed or claimed."

      In September, the Crown suddenly terminated a preliminary hearing and
      filed a direct indictment, sending the defendants directly to trial.
      The defence lawyers charged that the move came out of the state's
      concern that some of the accused would be discharged after the
      preliminary hearing.

      "We were able to get the bombing charge dropped after the preliminary
      hearing," Mr. Jamal's lawyer, Answer Farooq, said after the bail
      ruling. "We're hoping to get this matter as quickly to trial as
      possible so he can be exonerated and go home."

      Yesterday, Mr. Jamal was at his Mississauga, Ont., townhome with his
      wife and four children on house arrest. Almost three-quarters of the
      $100,000 bond posted for his bail was collected from community
      members, his wife, Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal, wrote on her blog.

      A publication ban prevents the media from reporting on evidence
      presented in court. Members of the Department of Justice could not be
      reached yesterday.

      "If you want to know what happened, if you want to know the truth,
      come to the courtroom," Mrs. Jamal said yesterday. "Come hear the
      defence, then make a decision."

      Mr. Jamal spent 13 months in solitary confinement and claims that he
      was beaten when he first arrived at Maplehurst Correctional Facility.

      "One of the problems in our times is we no longer put sufficient
      stress on this presumption of freedom. Keeping someone imprisoned who
      has not been convicted is an exceptional measure," said Julius Grey, a
      Montreal-based veteran lawyer.

      The 18 suspects, who were arrested in the summer of 2006, were part of
      a larger group of almost 50 that were under investigation, sources
      told the National Post. Defence lawyers for the accused have said that
      security officials cast their net too wide.

      "There's a better-safe-than-sorry attitude," said Reem Bahdi, law
      professor at the University of Windsor, who researches security
      certificate cases and racial profiling. "These cases are made against
      individuals, and the people who become involved in the investigation
      develop tunnel vision. All they end up seeing in front of them is a
      terrorist. This was pointed out in the Arar inquiry."

      This is only the second prosecution under Canada's new anti-terror-ism

      "The arrest of this alleged Toronto terror cell is clearly going to be
      a test case [of ] the capacity of a Canadian intelligence community to
      adequately and effectively pinpoint dangerous activity in Canada,"
      said Wesley Wark, a national security expert at the University of
      Ottawa. "If prosecution falls apart in court, if evidence looks
      erroneous, that will cast a significant shadow over how well Canada
      has ramped up its intelligence capabilities since Sept. 11."



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