September 23, 2015 / 8:19 PM / 5 years ago

Defense says no proof Canada teen robbery tied to terrorism: CBC

MONTREAL (Reuters) - The defense lawyer for a Quebec teenager on trial for terrorism-related offenses told a Canadian court on Wednesday that prosecutors have not proven a link between the robbery the boy committed and his political beliefs, Canadian media reported.

The 16-year-old was arrested in October 2014 for robbing a Montreal convenience store. He was denounced by his family, who worried he had become radicalized.

The boy, who cannot be identified because he is a minor, has admitted to the robbery but has pleaded not guilty to trying to use the money to join a terrorist group in Syria.

He is the youngest person tried for terrorism-related offenses in Canada.

The boy’s father, who immigrated from Algeria with his family in 2003, expressed concern about his son to police in October 2014 after discovering a bag hidden behind their home containing a mask, knife and cash.

In his closing arguments, defense lawyer Tiago Murias said that while the boy had a disturbing interest in jihadist propaganda, there is no proof he was linked to a terrorist organization or had made any direct contact with Islamic State radicals, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

Arguing the robbery had no connection to terrorism, Murias said that propaganda found on the teen’s computer was publicly available to anyone with an Internet connection, the CBC said.

Earlier this week, prosecutor Lyne Decarie painted a picture of a family in crisis as they struggled to deal with the teen.

The boy was sullen and spent most of his time in his room, looking at Internet articles and photos of the war in Syria, Decarie told the court. [ID:nL1N11N1RW]

She said his father changed his credit card numbers twice, after the teen was caught trying to donate to a group in Lebanon supporting opponents to the Assad regime and when he tried to buy an airline ticket to Turkey.

Both transactions were stopped by the bank.

Reporting by Andrea Hopkins; Editing by Richard Chang

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