NEWS

Two Men In Via Train Terror Plot Sentenced To Life In Prison

09/23/2015 01:52 EDT | Updated 09/23/2015 01:59 EDT
CP

TORONTO-- Two men found guilty of terrorism charges after being accused of plotting to derail a passenger train have been sentenced to life in prison.

Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier were found guilty in March on a total of eight charges between them.

Justice Michael Code, the Toronto judge who presided over their trial earlier this year, found both men have not renounced their extremists beliefs, have not expressed remorse and present questionable prospects for rehabilitation.

Crown lawyers had asked for life sentences for both men.

Jaser's lawyer had argued mitigating factors in his client's case included entrapment, segregation during pre-trial custody and drug addiction. Code rejected those arguments in delivering his sentence.

A court-appointed lawyer who was ordered to assist the self-represented Esseghaier through the legal process had asked Code to postpone sentencing until it could be determined if Esseghaier could be hospitalized and treated for a mental illness. Code refused.

Two psychiatrists who assessed Esseghaier's mental state over the course of his sentencing hearing found that he likely suffers from a mental illness.

But the second psychiatrist found that Esseghaier was still fit to be sentenced for his crimes.

Esseghaier is deeply religious and has consistently maintained his desire to be judged under the Qur'an.

He has often gone on rambling rants in the courtroom and even prayed in the prisoner's dock, but his mental state only became an issue in the case after the psychiatric assessments-- which he vehemently disagreed with.

In one court session, Esseghaier even spat at lawyers and threw a cup of water across a courtroom after the second psychiatrist who assessed him testified that he likely suffers from schizophrenia.

Code said it was "unnecessary to arrive at any firm conclusions regarding Esseghaier's alleged mental illness.''

But he did find that Esseghaier was "completely remorseless.''

During their trial, court heard that an undercover FBI agent gained Jaser and Esseghaier's trust and surreptitiously recorded their conversations, which made up the bulk of the evidence in the case.

The two were recorded speaking about alleged terror plots they would conduct in retaliation for Canada's military actions in Muslim countries, including the derailment of a Via Rail train travelling between New York and Toronto.