Two convicted terrorists found guilty of plotting a terror attack on a VIA Rail passenger train have requested to have their retrial by judge alone and without a jury. 

In 2015, Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser were convicted of terrorism charges over suspected support for al-Qaeda and plotting the attack. 

The pair were each charged with two counts of participating in terrorist activity and conspiracy to commit murder for the benefit of a criminal organization. Essaghaier also had an additional conviction of conspiracy to derail a VIA Rail train. 

“Had this plot been carried out, it would have resulted in innocent people being killed or seriously injured,” said RCMP Assistant Commissioner James Malizia

Both Jaser and Esseghaier had picked a train route where they intended to stage the attack and were in the planning stages of their plot when apprehended by police in 2013. 

In August 2019, the Court of Appeal of Ontario granted the terrorists a retrial due to a “legal error” made by the presiding judge who found them guilty. 

Over a decade before Jaser was convicted as a terrorist, Canadian authorities were considering deporting him over fraud convictions. In 2004, the government decided against Jaser’s deportation because of his status as an alleged “stateless person.”

The new trial is set to take place on September 14, 2020; however, the Crown is currently appealing to have the Ontario Court of Appeal decision for a retrial overturned by the Supreme Court of Canada.

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