Top Canada court upholds anti-terrorism law in unanimous ruling

Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:48pm EST
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By Randall Palmer

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's Supreme Court on Friday upheld an anti-terrorism law enacted after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, ruling unanimously that those who choose to engage in terrorism must "pay a very heavy price."

The law's constitutionality was challenged by Mohammad Momin Khawaja, convicted in Canada of terrorism for involvement with a British group that had plotted unsuccessfully to set off bombs in London.

It was also challenged by two men accused of terrorism by the United States for trying to buy missiles or weapons technology for the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers.

The court rejected arguments that the law's definition of terrorism was overly broad. It upheld Khawaja's life sentence and confirmed the orders to extradite the other two to the United States.

Khawaja, a Canadian of Pakistani descent, was the first to be convicted under the law. He was sentenced in 2008 to 10-1/2 years in prison, and his sentence was then extended to life after appeal by the government.

The trial judge noted that Khawaja referred to Osama Bin Laden as "the most beloved person to me in the ... whole world, after Allah." He was found to have participated in a terrorism training camp in Pakistan and to have designed a device dubbed the "hi fi digimonster" for detonating bombs.

"The appellant was a willing participant in a terrorist group," Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the 7-0 decision, adding that he was "apparently remorseless."

"He was committed to bringing death on all those opposed to his extremist ideology and took many steps to provide support to the group. The bomb detonators he attempted to build would have killed many civilians had his plans succeeded."   Continued...

Former Liberal Member of Parliament Borys Wrzesnewskyj waits for the start of hearings outside the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa July 10, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie