Lawyer for man charged with terrorism-related offences condemns RCMP 'tunnel vision'

In his closing arguments, El Mahdi Jamali's defence lawyer, Tiago Murias, told jurors there were problems with the way investigators worked and with what they neglected to present as evidence.

Jury members told by lawyer there were problems with RCMP investigation and evidence presented

Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali, shown here in a courtroom sketch, are on trial on terrorism-related offences. (Radio-Canada)

The defence lawyer for El Mahdi Jamali is condemning what he calls "tunnel vision" on the part of RCMP officers who put together the case against his client.

Jamali, 20, and Sabrine Djermane, 21, were arrested in 2015 and charged in relation to what the Crown has argued were preparations to go to Syria to fight with ISIS.

However, in his closing arguments, Tiago Murias told jury members there were problems with the way investigators worked and with what they neglected to present as evidence.

Murias said each investigator worked on a specific element in the investigation, but the investigators didn't communicate with each other about the meaning and greater context of what they'd found.

Murias said the investigators suffered from what he called "confirmation bias," only presenting what they believed would confirm their theory that the couple was headed overseas to fight with ISIS.

In one Facebook message that was not brought forward by RCMP investigator Geneviève Coulombe, Jamali posted that he did not adhere to the beliefs of the Islamic State, Murias said.

"You can choose not to believe him," Murias told the jurors. "But you have to ask, why did she not show you this?"

Coulombe also chose to show as evidence one of Jamali's internet searches about a jihadist cell being arrested in Morocco, Murias said.

However, he said, she chose not to show the 16 other internet searches on Morocco that his client conducted at the same time which were completely benign.

In another Facebook chat, Jamali texted Djermane about wanting to return to school. He said being on welfare was boring.

"Why didn't the investigator show this?" Murias asked. "Because she didn't feel it was pertinent to her case."

Djermane and Jamali each face three charges:

  • Attempting to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act.
  • Possession of an explosive substance.
  • Committing an act under the direction of, or for the profit of a terrorist organization.   

Murias's closing arguments continue Wednesday afternoon.

It's expected that Djermane's lawyer will begin his closing arguments tomorrow.