Canadian prosecutors have indicated they will appeal a 12-year prison sentence handed down to Saad Gaya, one of the “Toronto 18” group accused of planning al Qaeda-style bombings of Toronto landmarks in 2006. The Crown had sought a harsher sentence for Gaya, who pleaded guilty in September to plotting an explosion likely to cause death, the most serious of the charges against the “Toronto 18” group of extremists.
Police say Gaya and the other alleged plotters had planned to bomb the Toronto Stock Exchange, the CN Tower and other downtown targets in Canada’s largest city. Gaya’s sentence came on the same day that the alleged ringleader of the group, Zakaria Amara, was given a life sentence, the stiffest yet imposed under the Anti-Terrorism Act.
The case of Canada’s notorious homegrown terror plot enters a significant phase in 2010 with the trials upcoming for the final six alleged members, accused of attending a training camp and plotting to bomb various targets. The Crown has alleged some of the men held a terrorism training camp north of Toronto and that others were involved in the bomb plot.
One of the remaining men is expected to have his trial by judge in January, while the other five men’s case is expected to be put in front of a jury starting in March.
The guilty pleas and the outcome of the first man’s trial will have absolutely no bearing on the last five men’s case, said lawyer William Naylor, who represents the man who will stand trial in January. The fact that those five men have elected trial by jury is breaking new ground. This is the first time an Anti-Terrorism Act case will be tried by a jury. All of the six men awaiting trial have been in custody since their arrests in June 2006, except for one, who was granted bail in August.