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Sentencing hearing today for men convicted in Via Rail terror plot

TORONTO – Sentencing arguments are set for today in Toronto for two men found guilty last month of plotting to derail a passenger train travelling between Canada and the U.S.

After a marathon 10 days of deliberations, a jury found Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier guilty of a terror-related conspiracy to commit murder on March 20.

Jurors also convicted both men of two counts of participating in, or contributing to, the activity of a terrorist group.

Esseghaier – who only wanted to be judged by the Qur’an – didn’t participate in the trial and said he didn’t want to take part in sentencing arguments.

Both men face up to life in prison.

Jaser’s lawyer has said his client isn’t happy with the verdict and may consider an appeal.

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John Norris had argued his client was only feigning interest in the alleged terror plot as part of an elaborate con to extract money from Esseghaier and an undercover FBI agent who befriended the pair.

Crown prosecutors had argued, however, that there was “overwhelming evidence” in the case to find both Jaser and Esseghaier guilty of all charges.

The Crown’s star witness in the case was the undercover FBI agent who gained Esseghaier and Jaser’s trust, resulting in hours of secret audio recordings of their conversations, which made up the bulk of evidence in the case.

The trial, which began Feb. 2, heard 25 hours of those conversations in which Jaser and Esseghaier were heard musing about alleged terror plots which could be carried out in retaliation for Canadian military action in Muslim lands.

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