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Crime

2 men accused of plotting to derail Via Rail train guilty of all but one charge

WATCH: Mike Drolet reports from outside of the courtroom where Esseghaier and Jaser were found guilty.

TORONTO – The two men accused of plotting to derail a Via passenger train have both been found guilty of terror-related charges.

The jury reached a unanimous decision on all but one of the offences: conspiring to damage transportation property with the intent to endanger safety for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group. Chiheb Esseghaier was found guilty of this charge. The jury was deadlocked on a verdict for Raed Jaser on the same charge.

“They were real serious public dangers,” Crown lawyer Croft Michaelson said.

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The deadlocked verdict means a new trial on that one charge is possible, but Michaelson wouldn’t say whether the crown would pursue that.

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Both men were found guilty of conspiring to commit murder for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a terrorist group.

John Norris, the lawyer representing Jaser, told reporters outside of the courthouse Friday that his client was “disappointed” in the outcome of the trial.

“He has great confidence in the administration of justice in Canada,” Norris said. “That confidence is unshaken and he remains steadfast in his position.”

WATCH: Croft Michaelson, the crown prosecutor in this case, talks about the final verdict as well as the lengthy deliberations of the jury.

Jaser and Esseghaier were arrested in 2013 and faced a total of nine charges following an investigation that involved an undercover FBI agent, identified as Agent Al-Nouri, who gained the trust of the two men.

“Agent Al-Nouri was a critical witness, obviously. He was central to the case,” Michaelson said. “The case really largely turned on his investigative efforts, the efforts he had made to successfully infiltrate this terrorist cell that was in our midst in 2012.”

Esseghaier didn’t participate in the trial, and a not guilty plea had to be entered for him. He also didn’t defend himself during the trial, instead saying he could only be judge by the Qur’an. Throughout the trial he refused to stand when the judge and jury entered the room and frequently fell asleep in the prisoner’s box.

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He didn’t cross-examine any witnesses but did give the jury a written statement during closing arguments offering his “sincere advice” and advising them to apply the Qur’an to their lives and prepare for “judgement day.”

He appeared indifferent when the guilty verdict was read out on Friday.

Jaser looked at the ceiling after the jury delivered the verdict before burying his head in his hands. His defence team argued he hadn’t been a willing participant to the terrorist plot and had merely been trying to defraud Esseghaier in order to open a fast-food restaurant.

The 12-member jury had been in deliberations for 10 days and returned to the court six times to ask questions about the charges.

Norris hinted the deadlocked verdict could be used in a possible appeal of Jaser’s verdict.

“There were different narratives that were available on the evidence and could explain a lot of things that needed explaining and that narrative seems to have held with some of the jurors, regrettably not all of them,” he said.

“We’ll see how things unfold in future proceedings.”

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Sentencing for both men has been scheduled for April.