Saturday, April 7, 2007

Canadian's terror appeal denied

By Lee Carter
BBC News, Toronto

The first person to be charged under Canada's anti-terrorism act has lost his attempt to challenge the law over its constitutionality.

Mohammed Momin Khawaja, a Canadian citizen, was arrested in March 2004 in a joint UK-Canadian operation and was accused of planning to attack the UK.

Mohammed Momin Khawaja
Mohammed Khawaja was the first person charged under new laws

He argued that the new law was unconstitutional following a ruling by a provincial judge.

But the Supreme Court of Canada decided not to hear Mr Khawaja's appeal.

Mohammed Momin Khawaja was arrested on 29 March 2004, charged under what was at the time new Canadian anti-terrorism legislation.

His arrest was part of a joint operation between Canada and Britain in which nine men were arrested.

Mr Khawaja was the only person arrested in Canada and he has remained in custody ever since.

Local 'loophole'

The charges allege that terrorist activities took place in London and in the Canadian capital, Ottawa, between November 2003 and March 2004.

Mr Khawaja made several trips to London during that time.

Seven British Muslim men remain in custody in London and are accused of conspiring to detonate fertiliser bombs around the city in 2004. Mr Khawaja was not charged in the UK.

Mr Khawaja had argued that he had been targeted because he is a Muslim and because the anti-terror law had become meaningless after a provincial judge struck down part of it.

But Canada's Supreme Court said that despite that ruling, Mr Khawaja's trial can proceed.

The trial could now begin in early May and is expected to last up to three months.

Mr Khawaja has also appeared in a federal court to argue against another law that allows some of the evidence against him to be divulged in secret.