Closing arguments in case of Montrealers charged with terror-related charges

Closing arguments in case of Montrealers charged with terror-related charges

MONTREAL — Jurors hearing final arguments at the trial of two young Montrealers facing terror-related charges were cautioned by the Crown on Monday to consider the evidence as a whole as they inch toward the deliberation phase.

Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali each face three charges: attempting to leave Canada to commit a terror act abroad; possession of an explosive substance; and committing an act under the direction or for the profit of a terrorist organization.

A fourth charge of facilitating a terrorist act was withdrawn following a ruling last month at which lawyers for both accused also announced they would not call witnesses.

As per the Criminal Code when no defence is presented, the Crown was up first, with defence lawyers expected to follow later this week.

Federal prosecutor Lyne Decarie said the case she’s presented follows the path laid out when the trial began in September.

“When I first spoke to you, I summed up the case to you as this: the Islamic State, a young adult couple who want to leave Canada to join this terrorist group and the discovery of a recipe to make a bomb with some of the necessary ingredients,” Decarie said.

“I submit to you that the story hasn’t changed.”

Prosecutors allege Djermane, 21, and Jamali, 20, had also accumulated the necessary ingredients to make a bomb. They also had a handwritten bomb recipe found copied from an al-Qaida publication.

The RCMP arrested the couple in April 2015 after investigators received a tip they were planning to leave Canada in short order.

Decarie called 31 witnesses to the stand as part of the prosecution’s case and submitted numerous pieces of evidence.

Before embarking on a closer, lengthy look at the evidence, including numerous texts and chats, Decarie said it was important for the jurors to consider the context.

“In a case such as this, you must look at all of the evidence, not each element separately on its own,” she said. “The context, the timing, and looking at the evidence as a whole is primordial.”

She gave some examples — seized items like a nine-volt battery or nails — which would be commonplace in most Canadian households.

But she said the items take on a different significance given the testimony of a Crown explosives expert as well as the existence of the bomb recipe that stated the battery and nails were among the necessary ingredients.

“The batteries take on a whole other level of significance,” she said, citing one example.

There was also the case, she said, of evidence being erased from their smartphones — something altogether normal until put in its place with the other evidence.

“To do it after having been met by the RCMP national security investigators and after learning why they’d been met — that there was a complaint and fears they were heading to Syria — the act takes on a different significance,” Decarie said.

The Crown also focused on the respective financial situations of the pair — that they’d both plowed through lines of credit and emptied their bank accounts leading up to their arrest.

Eleven jurors remain on the panel and four days have been set aside for final arguments this week.

Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press

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