June 18th, 2024

Raed Jaser, convicted in Via Rail terror plot, loses appeal


By The Canadian Press on June 5, 2024.

Raed Jaser is shown in court in Toronto on April 23, 2013 in an artist's sketch. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Mantha

Ontario’s highest court has upheld the conviction and life sentence of one of the two men found guilty of terrorism charges in a plot to derail a passenger train between Canada and the U.S.

Raed Jaser had challenged the outcome of the 2015 trial on several grounds, including that his case should have been severed from that of his co-accused, Chiheb Esseghaier ““ something he requested twice, unsuccessfully.

Esseghaier, who was self-represented, refused to meaningfully participate in the court proceedings related to the trial, saying he would only be judged by the Qur’an, and had several outbursts in court, including one where he spat at lawyers and threw a cup of water.

Jaser argued on appeal that the trial judge’s refusal to grant him a separate trial compromised the fairness of the proceedings.

In a unanimous ruling released today, the Court of Appeal for Ontario said the trial judge made reasonable and legally correct decisions on the issue, and going ahead with a joint trial “did not result in an injustice.”

The three-judge panel also rejected Jaser’s other arguments on appeal.

This is the second time the Appeal Court has weighed in on Jaser and Esseghaier’s case.

They were found guilty in 2015 on a total of eight terror-related charges between them. They were sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole until 2023.

Jaser and Esseghaier were granted a new trial in 2019 after the Appeal Court found the jury that convicted them was improperly selected.

However, the Supreme Court of Canada later ruled the pair had received a fair trial despite the error, sending the case back to the provincial Appeal Court to hear their challenges on other grounds.

Esseghaier eventually gave up his appeal of his conviction, but Jaser proceeded with his and further sought leave to appeal his sentence. The appeal court gave him leave to appeal his sentence but ultimately rejected the challenge.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 5, 2024.

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