Friday, March 4, 2011

Toronto 18 member gets life sentence

Toronto 18 member gets life sentence
Shareef Abdelhaleem, tried under Anti-terrorism Act, says sentence is too heavy

Shareef Abdelhaleem, a member of the so-called Toronto 18 who was convicted of participating in a bomb plot, was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Ontario Superior Court Justice Fletcher Dawson said Abdelhaleem didn't show remorse for his role in a plan to set off three one-tonne fertilizer bombs, including two in downtown Toronto.

Abdelhaleem, 35, was found guilty in February 2010 of participating in a terrorist group and intending to cause an explosion.

Fletcher said that even though Abdelhaleem claimed he wasn't a major player in the plot, he was instrumental in helping ringleader Zakaria Amara.

Before Dawson's ruling, Abdelhaleem gave a 30-minute statement saying he never intended to hurt anyone. He said he loved Canada, and he had never been discriminated against because of his religion or skin colour, but added the system was blatantly unfair.

Abdelhaleem, tried as an alleged terrorist under Canada's Anti-terrorism Act, argued he should have instead been tried as an "extremist."

That distinction, he argued, deserves a lighter sentence.

Dawson disagreed, saying Abdelhaleem did not understand the seriousness of his offences.

Abdelhaleem and 17 others, who came to be known in the media as the Toronto 18, were arrested in 2006 and charged with terrorism offences.

Seven had their charges dropped or stayed, seven pleaded guilty and four were convicted. Abdelhaleem was the last of the 18 to learn his fate.