Lawyers Complain Over Alleged Poor Treatment of Canada Terror Suspects

Lawyers for some of the 14 Muslim terror suspects held in an alleged plot to blow up buildings complained at a bail hearing Monday about the treatment of their clients, saying one was beaten by a guard.

Two of the suspects alleged in court that they had been tortured.

CountryWatch: Canada

Fourteen of the 17 men arrested — including five teenagers — appeared Monday at the Ontario Court of Justice in Brampton, just west of Toronto. Another is scheduled to appear July 4 and two others are already in prison on unrelated weapons charges.

The five teenagers appeared in court wearing white T-shirts and chained together as the hearing got under way.

Lawyers for some of the adult suspects said their clients were being kept in solitary confinement, that one was beaten by a guard Sunday, and that they are not being given enough time with their families.

While defense lawyers were talking about abuse, two of the suspects raised their hands and one of them said "torture" and the other said "torture, straight up."

Prosecutors asked the judge to ban the media from reporting details of any of the allegations to protect the suspects' right to a fair trial.

Defense attorneys and a lawyer representing The Associated Press and the Toronto Star opposed the ban.

Rocco Galati, who represents Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, 21, said he would asking for live television broadcasts of the hearings.

"It is not enough for the crown to stand up and say the media interest in the case is big therefore there should be a ban," said Ryder Gilliland, the lawyer for the media.

Gary Batasar, a lawyer for Steven Vikash Chand, 25, was "vehemently" opposed to a publication ban.

"My client is vehemently opposed to any suggestion of a publication ban. He wants to make sure this process is transparent. This is no ordinary trial. My client vehemently insists upon his innocence, insists that the allegations against him are false and ridiculous," Batasar said.

A crush of media descended on the courthouse as a large police presence, including snipers on rooftops, kept watch.

Outside court, Galati said the men are being kept in isolation in a room that is lit 24 hours a day and are woken up every half hour.

Another lawyer says his client was beaten by a guard after he giggled because he felt ticklish while being searched.

David Kolinsky said the guard pinned his client to the ground and drilled his knuckle into the man's cheek and said "'is this funny?"'

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police announced June 2 that authorities had foiled a terrorist attack on targets in Ontario, saying the men had obtained three tons of ammonium nitrate, three times what was used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing that killed 168 people.

The news has roiled Canadians, who have widely viewed themselves as immune to such homegrown hatred, unlike their neighbor to the south. But Canada has become a named target for Islamic extremists due to its dominant Christian base and close ties with Washington.

Following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Usama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda terrorist network named Canada as one of the top five countries ripe for attacks.

Each suspect is charged with one count of participating in a terrorist group. Three of them — Fahim Ahmad, 21, Mohammed Dirie, 22, and Yasim Abdi Mohamed, 24 — also are charged with importing weapons and ammunition for terrorist activity.

Nine face charges of receiving training from a terrorist group, while four are charged with providing training. Six also are charged with intending to cause an explosion that could cause serious bodily harm or death.

A defense lawyer for one suspect said last week that prosecutors would argue some of the Muslim defendants were plotting to storm Parliament, take politicians hostage and behead them unless Canada withdrew its troops from Afghanistan.

Some Canadians have expressed fear of an anti-Muslim backlash. After the arrests were announced, the windows of a Toronto mosque were smashed. On Friday, a prominent imam was attacked outside his Montreal mosque by a knife-wielding man in what police said was a hate crime.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper held a closed-door meeting with Muslim community leaders to discuss the fallout from the arrests. Participants said academics, activists and imams expressed a range of views about the possible motivations of the suspects.

"It's about time Muslims owned up to the fact it's a Muslim problem," said Farzana Hassan-Shahid of the Canadian Muslim Congress, adding she believes the community must forcefully denounce extremism. "We need to be more proactive, rather than issue statements of condemnation."