Civil liberties group says verdict raises questions about Canada's 'anti-terror' laws

    TORONTO, Sept. 26 /CNW/ - The Presumption of Innocence Project, a civil
liberties group, says that yesterday's guilty verdict in the first test of
Canada's anti-terror legislation raises serious questions about the law's
threshold for a conviction. In sworn testimony and public statements, the
Crown's star witness, Mubin Shaikh, has publicly denied that the youth on
trial had any connection to or knowledge of an alleged terror plot. Shaikh,
who was paid $300,000 as a police spy, responded to the guilty verdict by
re-asserting his belief that the youth is innocent.
    "If a guilty verdict is possible in spite of Mr. Shaikh's testimony, we
worry about what kind of threshold for a conviction is set by Canada's
anti-terror laws," says Chantal Sundaram, a spokesperson for the group.
"Canadians will be asking whether these laws make it easier to convict, since
even the Crown's star witness so publicly undermined the Crown's case."
    The youth was one of 11 men and boys who still face similar charges. Of
the 18 originally charged, seven have had all charges stayed or withdrawn.
Despite their innocence, many of the men spent months in solitary confinement,
some for over a year, before being released.
    "Regardless of the outcome of this trial, those still facing charges have
the right to be presumed innocent," says Sundaram. "They have the right to due
process and a fair trial in a public court of law. We must not respond to
yesterday's verdict by assuming the guilt of those who are still awaiting
their trials."
    Three of the men have now been held in solitary confinement at the Don
Jail in Toronto for 847 days, well beyond the 30-day maximum suggested by
prisoner rights advocates.

    The Presumption of Innocence Project is a broad-based coalition that
supports and defends civil liberties, the right to a fair trial and the
presumption of innocence.

For further information:

For further information: James Clark, spokesperson, (416) 795-5863
(cellular); Chantal Sundaram, spokesperson, (647) 223-3902 (cellular)

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