Canadian pleads guilty in plot to kill Jews
A Canadian man pleaded guilty in an Israeli military court on Wednesday to conspiracy and illegal military training for planning attacks on Jews in Canada and the U.S.
Jamal Akkal, from Windsor, Ont ., was sentenced to four years in prison after agreeing to a plea bargain. Despite his guilty plea, Akkal continued to protest his innocence as he was led into court at the Erez border crossing into Gaza .
Akkal also made a plea to Prime Minister Paul Martin for help and said he hoped Canadians wouldn't forget him.
Akkal's lawyer said his client agreed to the plea because he thought a conviction was inevitable and that he wouldn't get a better deal.
Akkal, who moved to Canada from the Gaza Strip in 1999, has been in Israeli custody for a year.
- FROM FEB. 11, 2004: Break in case of jailed Canadian held in Israel
Authorities contend that Akkal was a Hamas recruit who met with a member of the militant organization in Gaza to discuss carrying out attacks against members of the Jewish community in Canada and in the U.S.
Akkal said he was in Gaza for his wedding and he was on his way back to Canada when he was detained. He was charged with conspiracy to commit murder and with illegal military training after he confessed to being a member of Hamas.
But Akkal has always maintained his confession was obtained under duress. He claimed he was beaten and sleep deprived during lengthy interrogations by Israeli military.
Israeli authorities deny he was ever mistreated.
In sentencing Akkal, the judge said he took into account that the conspiracy was in the first phase. The judge also noted that Akkal had no prior record.
It is also not clear whether the Hamas leadership ever approved of the plan.