The lawyer representing a former pathologist accused of joining an al-Qaeda-inspired terrorist cell in Ottawa said Crown lawyers have failed to establish why his client would knowingly participate in a terrorist conspiracy.
Dr. Khurram Sher a former pathologist who lived in London, Ont., is charged with conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity, and he has pleaded not guilty.
The trial is mostly focused on a late-night meeting at an Ottawa townhouse on July 20, 2010, involving Sher and two other men.
According to wiretap transcripts of the meeting, the three discuss sending money to the Taliban, travelling to Pakistan to get military training, forming a group and electing a leader from among the three of them.
They also talk briefly about bomb making and appear to discuss a potential target: CFB Trenton in Ontario, the base where the bodies of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan are repatriated.
Wiretap not clear, defence argues
Closing arguments began Monday after a three-week hiatus with Sher's lawyer Michael Edelson saying the meeting was an attempt to recruit Sher and that he played along with the other two men during the conversation but had no contact with them before or after the meeting.
Sher was smart academically but naive about life and his friend's double life as a jihadist, said Edelson.
Edelson also said the wiretapped conversation in July isn't as clear as the Crown contends, and that some comments attributed to Sher were not made by him.
As for motive, Edelson said the letters Crown lawyers submitted as evidence that Sher wrote to newspapers and the Prime Minister on subjects ranging from the Iraq government to Israel were signed with his own name and not far outside mainstream opinion.
Earlier in the trial, Sher testified that he didn't go to police after the meeting because he didn't think the plot was serious. He said he regretted not speaking out, both to the two men during the meeting but also to police afterwards. He told the court the incident and his subsequent arrest has cost him his house and his career.
Closing arguments in the trial are set to resume Thursday.