Politics stopped preliminary hearing, says lawyer

September 26, 2007

A lawyer who represents one of the 15 suspects accused of plotting to blow up Parliament Hill and offices of the CBC and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service says politics was behind the decision to stop a preliminary hearing earlier this week.

The Crown made the unusual decision on Monday to take the case directly to trial without fully examining star witness and police informant Mubin Sheikh. 

On Tuesday night, on CBC Radio's As It Happens, defence lawyer Dennis Edney said the justice process is being manipulated.

"Mr. Sheikh indicated that some of the accused, both at the youth level and at the adult level, were innocent and should not be in the jail system," said Edney.

"We had an opportunity to have Mr. Sheikh state that under oath in court, so the judge at the end of the day could make a determination whether certain of the accused, if not all of the accused, can go home. That has been stopped.

"And it can only lead to a reasonable inference that there's a political motive in doing so."
Edney also said he has asked a Superior Court judge to release files from CSIS to shed light on what happened in the lead up to his client's arrest.

The accused had been facing a preliminary hearing in a court in Brampton, Ont.  all under a publication ban  until prosecutors decided to send the case forward.

The 14 adult males and one youth face a number charges stemming from allegations that they were involved in militia-style training in the bush north of Toronto, as well as plotting to blow up hydro installations, the CSIS and CBC buildings in downtown Toronto.

Police conducted a series of raids in Ontario in June 2006 that led to the arrest of 17 suspects, with an 18th arrest two months later. Earlier this year charges were stayed against three of the accused, leaving 15 males still facing charges.

Prosecutors have only said they are taking this step in the public interest.