SURREY, British Columbia (Reuters) - The suspects in an alleged plot to set off bombs at a public party on Canada’s national holiday appeared in court on Tuesday, one of them clutching a Koran, and their lawyer said it was likely they would plead not guilty to the charges against them.
The two Canadians are charged with trying to explode nail-laced pressure cooker bombs while a crowded July 1 Canada Day party was taking place in front of the provincial legislature in Victoria, British Columbia.
Surrey Provincial Court Judge Richard Miller agreed to a request by a federal prosecutor to have the case tried at the British Columbia Supreme Court without first going to a lower court.
The two suspects, John Stuart Nuttall and Amanda Korody, will appear in the B.C. Supreme Court on Wednesday morning.
Nuttall’s lawyer, Tom Morino, said he would ask the judge on Wednesday for a four- to six-week postponement ahead of a bail hearing to give prosecutors time to provide the defense with details of their case and for Morino to review them.
Nuttall, born in 1974, and Korody, born in 1983, have been in jail since their arrest last Monday. Both are Canadian-born citizens who lived on government support in a basement apartment in Surrey, British Columbia, a bedroom community about 30 km (19 miles) southeast of Vancouver on Canada’s Pacific Coast.
As she entered the courtroom, Korody smiled at Nuttall. Nuttall was wearing a loose red T-shirt, his longish brown hair uncombed. He sported an unkempt beard.
Morino said the suspects, whom he said were married under Islamic law, were being kept segregated from the general prison population for their own safety. Nuttall was also going “cold turkey” from his dependence on the opiate Methadone, while in jail.
“I anticipate that there will be not guilty pleas entered,” Morino told reporters after the brief court appearance. He said there was “no incentive” to plead guilty as the charge of terrorism against them had a mandatory minimum sentence.
Canadian police described the plot to detonate the home-made bombs filled with nuts, bolts and rusty nails on the steps of the B.C. Legislature as being inspired by al Qaeda ideology. But they said there was no evidence to suggest a foreign link to alleged attack plans.
Morino said it was his “understanding” that U.S. authorities were involved in the investigation of the pair. He would not say which authorities.
Canadian police have said they had monitored the couple since February and that the public was not at risk, since agents had made sure the bombs would never have exploded. Police did not give more details.
Nuttall, a self-styled “Muslim Punk” who also wrote songs about his love for Satan, has a history of addiction and violence.
Karody is originally from Ontario but family members have told the media they lost contact with her when she moved west to British Columbia. Both lived on social assistance and, according to friends, became interested in Islam in the past couple of years.
Morino speculated that a trial could take four to six months.
With additional writing by Rod Nickel; Editing by Jeffrey Hodgson and Peter Galloway