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Cablegate: Toronto Terror Plot Bail Hearings Resume, New Charges

VZCZCXRO6951
PP RUEHGA RUEHHA RUEHQU RUEHVC
DE RUEHON #0440 3061943
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021943Z NOV 07
FM AMCONSUL TORONTO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2242
INFO RUCNCAN/ALCAN COLLECTIVE
RUEAHLC/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHDC
RUEAWJA/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC

UNCLAS TORONTO 000440

SIPDIS

SIPDIS
SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PTER CA
SUBJECT: TORONTO TERROR PLOT BAIL HEARINGS RESUME, NEW CHARGES
FILED

Ref: Toronto 139

Sensitive but unclassified -- please protect accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: In an unusual move, Canadian prosecutors
terminated preliminary hearings in September and decided to move the
defendants in the 2006 Ottawa and Toronto terrorism plots directly
to trial. Ontario courts will now revisit the confinement
conditions of each of the suspected terrorists, though insiders
believe the hearings are unlikely to result in changed confinement
conditions. The Ontario Superior Court denied bail on October 22nd
to the first of the accused to appear before the court.
Concurrently with the decision to move directly to trial, the Crown
also filed modified charges under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act
against several of the defendants. Consulate law enforcement
sources believe the Crown moved to a direct indictment to counteract
what they perceived as unnecessary delaying tactics by defense
attorneys. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) The Ontario Superior Court denied bail on October 22nd to
Steven Chand, accused in the 2006 Ottawa and Toronto terrorism
plots. The bail hearing was the first in a series of proceedings
that will take place over the coming weeks as Ontario courts revisit
the confinement conditions of the suspected terrorists after Crown
prosecutors took the unusual step of terminating preliminary
hearings and moving all of the defendants directly to trial. The
defendants' bail conditions are not likely to be loosened prior to
trial. A publication gag order on all details surrounding the case
remains in effect.

3. (SBU) Chand's new bail hearing was necessary after the September
decision by Crown to terminate preliminary hearings (similar to U.S.
grand jury proceedings) in the terror cases, and move directly to
trial. The procedure, known as "Preferred Direct Indictment," is
rarely used. The Crown's decision provoked furious protests from
defense attorneys, as the decision eliminated their opportunity to
"preview" the Crown's case, and more importantly, cross-examine
crucial witnesses. The move came as Mubin Shah, a once confidential
RCMP informant whose credibility has come under attack, was about to
testify.

4. (SBU) Concurrently with the decision to move directly to trial,
the Crown also filed modified charges under Canada's Anti-Terrorism
Act against several of the defendants as follows: Jahmaal James
with receiving terrorist training in Pakistan and knowingly
participating in a terrorist group; Zakaria Amara with instructing a
person to carry out an activity for the benefit of a terrorist
group; and Saad Gaya with knowingly participating or contributing to
the activity of a terrorist group. The Crown dropped charges of
providing property to aid and abet a terrorist organization against
Yasin Mohamed and Ali Dirie, who were already serving two years in
prison on weapons smuggling charges at the time of the other
arrests. Dirie and Mohamed remain behind bars on lesser charges
related to the plots.

5. (SBU) The charges against three suspects, who were youths at the
time of the arrest, were stayed by the Crown after the original
charges were filed in 2006. However, the Crown has reserved the
right to "reactivate" the charges at a later date. Two suspects,
Ahmad Ghany and Ibrahim Alkhalel Aboud, have been living with their
parents under strict conditions since being released on bail in July
2006. The remaining adult suspects are being held in solitary
confinement at Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton, Ontario.


6. (SBU) Consulate law enforcement sources believe the Crown moved
to a direct indictment to counteract what they perceived as
unnecessary delaying tactics by defense attorneys. During the
preliminary hearings, each defendant could individually challenge
each piece of Crown evidence and separately cross-examine each Crown
witness. The time consumed by the motions of over a dozen defense
attorneys eventually persuaded Crown prosecutors to move directly to
trial.

7. (SBU) COMMENT: Chand's bail hearing was a routine procedural
step compared to the Crown's unusual decision (taken with no notice
to the defense) of terminating preliminary hearings and moving
forward with a direct indictment. The new bail hearings are
unlikely to result in changed confinement conditions for any of the
suspects. At this point, it is unclear whether the direct indictment
procedure was used to paper over gaps in the Crown prosecutors case,
a procedure to counteract defense delaying tactics, or simply a
reflection of the sensitivity and importance of the terrorism
proceedings. END COMMENT.

NAY

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