Terror plot convict to appeal against verdict

A man sentenced under Canada's anti-terrorism law for plotting attacks in the UK will appeal against his conviction, his lawyer said.

Momin Khawaja, a 29-year-old Canadian of Pakistani descent, was sentenced last month to 10 and a half years for participating in a thwarted 2004 plan to attack London's Ministry of Sound nightclub, a shopping centre and electrical and gas facilities in Britain.

Prosecutors painted Khawaja as an extremist who, along with conspirators in Britain, was determined to sow havoc.

His lawyer Lawrence Greenspon asked the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn a finding that his client aided the group of British extremists.

Mr Greenspon said Khawaja, serving time in a Quebec prison, was "fully involved" in the decision to appeal.

"There were certainly gaps - significant gaps - in the prosecution's evidence," Mr Greenspon said. "The judge was aware of them, made a decision despite them, and that's one of the grounds for the appeal."

Khawaja was convicted of five charges of financing and facilitating terrorism for training at a remote camp in Pakistan and providing cash to the British terrorists, as well as offering them use of a house and other assistance.

He was also found guilty of two Criminal Code offences related to building a remote-control device to set off explosions.

Justice Douglas Rutherford of Ontario Superior Court called Khawaja "a willing and eager participant" in jihadist schemes.

However, the prosecution failed to prove Khawaja knew the electronic trigger, known as the HiFi Digimonster, would apparently be used to detonate fertiliser bombs in the London area.

Khawaja, an Ottawa software developer who turns 30 next week, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was tried before a judge last year.

Five associates, including ringleader Omar Khyam, were convicted in London and sentenced to life in prison.

Khawaja was the first to be charged - and the first sentenced - under Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act, passed after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States.

Khawaja's team also argues, among other things, that the judge reached an "unreasonable verdict" in finding that Khawaja knew his British associates were a terrorist group.


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