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Crown asks for fitness assessment of man convicted in Via Rail terror plot

Chiheb Esseghaier, one of two men accused of plotting a terror attack on rail target, is led off a plane by an RCMP officer at Buttonville Airport just north of Toronto on April 23, 2013.
Chiheb Esseghaier, one of two men accused of plotting a terror attack on rail target, is led off a plane by an RCMP officer at Buttonville Airport just north of Toronto on April 23, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – The Crown is asking for an assessment to determine whether a man convicted of plotting to derail a passenger train is fit to be sentenced.

Attorney Marcy Henschel told Chiheb Esseghaier’s sentencing hearing that the Crown will apply for a fitness assessment if the judge does not order one on his own.

Dr. Lisa Ramshaw, who did a psychiatric assessment on Esseghaier, testified earlier this week that she believes the Tunisian national is unable to participate in his sentencing hearing because he is likely schizophrenic.

READ MORE: Man found guilty in Via Rail plot motivated by drug addiction, court hears

Henschel says the evidence is reasonable grounds to undertake another assessment and to appoint legal counsel for Esseghaier, who has been representing himself with an appointed amicus curae.

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The lawyer for Esseghaier’s co-accused Raed Jaser said that if the assessment is ordered then the defence will renew its application to adjourn Jaser’s sentencing.

Esseghaier and Jaser were found guilty in March of a terror-related conspiracy to commit murder, which carries a sentence of up to life in prison, and six other terror-related charges between them.