Final arguments begin in B.C. terrorism trial with focus on ‘spiritual guidance’

By The Canadian Press
June 6, 2016 - 12:52pm Updated: June 7, 2016 - 12:21am

VANCOUVER — The lawyer for a man found guilty of planning to bomb the British Columbia legislature says the RCMP broke the law by supplying her client and his common-law wife with the means and the spiritual justification to carry out their terrorist plot.

Closing arguments began in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday for a hearing into whether John Nuttall and Amanda Korody were manipulated by police into planting explosives on the legislature lawn during Canada Day in 2013.

Nuttall and Korody were arrested three years ago as part of an elaborate RCMP sting. Last June, a jury found the pair guilty of conspiring to commit a terrorist act.

Their convictions are on hold while Nuttall and Korody’s lawyers make the case that their clients were entrapped by police.

Nuttall’s lawyer, Marilyn Sandford, told the court that police committed criminal offences over the course of the investigation. She said officers paid for the couple’s food, coffee and cigarettes, offered them transportation and accommodation, and provided technical advice about building and planting the pressure-cooker explosives.

This financing helped free up money for buying bomb-making supplies that would otherwise have been unavailable, she told the court.

Sandford said she disagreed with the legal advice received by the RCMP in the final stages of the investigation that suggested they weren’t guilty of inducing an offence as long as they didn’t provide the targets with actual money, despite having done so earlier in the operation.

“If you relieve future financial obligations and if you relieve the need to buy food, then it amounts in effect to the same thing as handing them cash and saying, ‘Here, go buy a pressure cooker,'” Sandford said.

“There is no difference. Clearly these are financial inducements to the targets.”

Sandford also told the court that police took it upon themselves to provide spiritual guidance and that they did so in a way that dismissed the concerns her client repeatedly raised over the morality of committing violence in the name of Islam.

“It’s absolutely clear … they wanted these concerns and qualms to be put aside,” Sandford told the court.

“That is not only inducement but a highly, highly egregious form of inducement to spiritually vulnerable targets.”

Sandford pointed to numerous instances throughout the investigation and presented in court examples where she said undercover officers encouraged Nuttall to direct questions regarding Islam to them and disparaged the authority of mainstream Muslim scholars and imams.

She referenced an entry from the primary undercover operator’s log, dated mid-April 2013, which read: “We had a good discussion about religion and his big desire to become my disciple.”

Sandford cited a transcript of Nuttall telling the same undercover officer: “You’re the only one I can talk to about this. This is what I was talking about when I said I need spiritual guidance.”

She pointed to earlier testimony from a religious expert who described elements of Islam being promoted to Nuttall by officers as flawed, and that the police appeared to be discouraging Nuttall from consulting with an authority of the faith.

“The undercover operators did and were instructed to do precisely what it was that they ought not to have done,” she said.

Sandford also raised concerns that police repeatedly told Nuttall his actions were ultimately predetermined by Allah and that he should listen to his heart and follow his feelings.

“This was a very dangerous message to send to a target who’s expressing spiritual reservations about a spiritually motivated crime: to essentially say you don’t have free will in the matter. So in other words, why waste time thinking about it; it’s all been determined one way or the other,” Sandford said.

“It was a strategy that had at its goal the directing of Mr. Nuttall away from proper religious inquiry.”

— Follow @gwomand on Twitter

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

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