Via Rail terror plot accused unable to find lawyer
Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal among men in case RCMP calls 1st in Canada led by al-Qaeda
A Montreal man linked to an alleged plot to bomb a Via Rail train says he cannot find a lawyer willing to use the Qur'an as a basis for his defence.
Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, had been expected to provide an update on his legal aid application when he made a video court appearance in Toronto this morning.
Esseghaier and 35-year-old Raed Jaser of Toronto are charged with conspiracy to murder for the benefit of a terrorist group, participating in a terrorist group and conspiring to interfere with transportation facilities for the benefit of a terrorist group.
Esseghaier faces an additional count of participating in a terrorist group.
The Crown told the court that a lawyer had met with Essenghaier in prison, but wouldn't agree to represent him based on terms he has repeatedly stated.
Esseghaier told the court during an earlier appearance following his arrest in late April that the Criminal Code should not apply to him because it's "not a holy book." Instead, he wants the Qur'an used as a "reference" in his case.
A representative of Legal Aid told the court on Monday that it is still working to find a solution.
Accused wants Qur'an used in case
A third man, Ahmed Abassi, also faces charges in the U.S. of fraudulently applying for a visa to stay in that country to "facilitate an act of international terrorism."
The RCMP has called the case the first known alleged plot in Canada directed by al-Qaeda. Police have alleged the suspects were conspiring to derail a passenger train.
According to a Reuters report, U.S. law enforcement and national security sources said the alleged plot targeted a rail line between Toronto and New York City.
Via Rail and Amtrak jointly run routes between Canada and the U.S.
With files from The Canadian Press