The first Canadian to be sentenced under the country’s new anti-terrorism legislation will appeal against his conviction, his lawyer says. Pakistan-born Momin Khawaja was convicted of involvement in a foiled fertilizer bomb plot in Britain and sentenced to 10 years and six months.
He was found guilty in October 2008 by a judge in Ontario, Canada in a trial without a jury. Legal experts regarded the trial as a test of Canada’s anti-terror laws.
Khawaja’s lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, filed the appeal in Ontario, arguing that there were gaps in the prosecution’s evidence. During the 2008 27-day trial, Greenspon suggested Khawaja’s jihadist activities were consistent with his plan to fight with Muslim insurgents in Afghanistan. Such combat, he said, is lawfully exempted under an “armed conflict” provision in Canada’s anti-terrorism laws.
The defense lawyer of Momin Khawaja, a Pakistani-born Canadian citizen, accused of collaborating with a group of British Muslims who in 2004 sought to bomb British buildings and natural gas grids, told the Ontario Superior Court that his client’s case should be thrown out. Attorney Lawrence Greenspon presented a motion requesting that the terrorism charges be dropped due to a lack of evidence to substantiate bomb-plot allegations. Khawaja has said that while he wanted to fight for the Islamic cause in Afghanistan, he never intended to bomb civilians in Britain. Khawaja, an Ottawa software developer, faces seven charges under Canada’s Anti-Terrorism Act, which include financing and facilitating terrorism, participating in terrorist training and meetings, and making a house owned by his family in Pakistan available for terrorist use. Khawaja has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The strongest evidence in the case of the first man charged under Canada’s antiterrorism act was revealed in court – emails he wrote over the course of a year prior to his arrest. Mohammad Mowin Khawaja, 29, wrote messages to conspirators in Britain referring to detonation devices, routing recruits to a house in Pakistan, as well as ways to send money and night-vision goggles to insurgents in Afghanistan. Defence lawyer Lawrence Greenspon conceded that his client had written the messages. A visit to an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2003 is said to have had a lasting impact on him.