Friday, February 29th, 2008
The Canadian Press
Friday, February 29, 2008
Lawyers for alleged terrorist Adil Charkaoui vowed Thursday to fight Canada’s new security certificates in the Supreme Court.
Lawyer Johanne Doyon said she will argue that an accused has the right to know the allegations and evidence against him, and to share the information with his lawyer.
Doyon, speaking in her client’s hometown of Montreal, said the new certificates also contravene the federal Bill of Rights.
Doyon said the Federal Court was advised Tuesday of Charkaoui’s decision to pursue a constitutional challenge. She said the motion will be filed within a month.
“We’re going as fast as we can because it is in the interests of Mr. Charkaoui to go fast,” Doyon said.
“You can understand, to have this condition on him, it’s too much. It’s very difficult for him. He is suffering a lot.”
Charkaoui and his lawyers are also unhappy that a summary of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service’s case against him was posted on the Federal Court’s website last week.
The posting outlined Charkaoui’s alleged discussion of a plan to hijack a plane and his application to work at Air Canada. The details were part of the announcement of the new security certificate against Charkaoui.
“It’s one side of the story that you have there,” Doyon said. “Inside the Federal Court file, there is a lot of documentation which contradicts the resumÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â© in question, and we feel that it is unfair to have only one side.”
Another sore point was that reporters saw the posting on the new certificate before Charkaoui and his lawyers did.
Charkaoui and his lawyer refused to address the specific allegations contained in the summary.
‘Insulted by the incompetence of CSIS’
A weary Charkaoui attended the brief late-afternoon news conference and bitterly criticized the spy agency’s handling of his case, saying they have been basing their investigation on unfounded allegations against him.
“I am profoundly insulted by the incompetence of CSIS,” he said.
Charkaoui, who was born in Morocco but now lives in Montreal, was arrested in 2003 under a federal security certificate and was detained until 2005, when he won his release in court.
In a landmark judgment a year ago, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the previous security certificates, the legal tools used by Ottawa to deport terrorist suspects who don’t hold Canadian citizenship.
The old regime allowed indefinite detention and eventual removal from Canada based on secret intelligence presented to a judge behind closed doors, with few details ever disclosed to defendants.
The new law, which passed in the House of Commons, would improve bail procedures and permit special security-cleared lawyers to attend the secret hearings, challenge government evidence and protect the rights of the accused.
Critics say the changes don’t go far enough and maintain that the new regime is also likely to be overturned as a violation of the Charter of Rights.
Doyon argued that the system providing security-cleared lawyers isn’t good enough because it deprives detainees of their chosen legal representation.