MONTREAL — A Montreal teen convicted on two terrorism-related charges was handed a three-year sentence Wednesday.
The boy, now 16, was found guilty in December on two charges: committing a robbery in association with a terror organization and planning to leave Canada to participate in the activities of a terrorist group abroad — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Despite some concerns, youth court Judge Dominique Wilhelmy agreed to a joint suggestion of 24 months of supervised detention, comprised of 16 months behind bars and eight months in the community.
That is to be followed by 12 months probation.
Three years is the stiffest sentence that can be doled out under the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
Experts agreed on teen's progress, ability to reform
The case stems from an October 2014 convenience store robbery linked to the accused, then 15, who hatched a plan to go to Syria to take part in the conflict there. He was turned in by his father.
Wilhelmy said she would opt for the joint recommendation made by experienced lawyers, whose suggestion was supported by reports on the boy's considerable progress.
Five experts, working independently, came up with largely similar views on the teen's progress and his ability to reform.
"Despite the worry and the questions that exist ... I will sign off on the common suggestion," Wilhelmy told the boy.
The experts all suggested the teen, who cannot be named, has made strides to break free of radical thought.
In particular, the court heard that meetings he had with an unnamed imam have changed his views drastically on Islam and radicalist views.
"You cannot say that a young man of 15 years old, who is subject to heinous propaganda, isn't a victim at some point."
But Wilhelmy noted one expert said the risk of recidivism couldn't be evaluated and another indicated the deradicalization process would take as long as the one that radicalized him in the first place.
His father told the court his son has changed a lot in the past year but that he is not yet 100 per cent reformed.
"We cannot predict the future, I wish you good luck,'' Wilhelmy told him before adjourning. "I hope your decision to modify your perception of things, of life and society will hold.''
The boy's lawyer, Tiago Murias, said his client is eager to turn the page and pursue studies in mathematics. He still believes the accused fell prey to radical propaganda.
"You cannot say that a young man of 15 years old, who is subject to heinous propaganda, isn't a victim at some point,'' Murias said.