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Deportation of terror suspect halted after Ontario court throws out conviction

Click to play video 'New trial ordered for 2 men accused in Via Rail terror plot' New trial ordered for 2 men accused in Via Rail terror plot
WATCH: The Court of Appeal for Ontario has ordered a new trial for Raed Jaser and Chiheb Esseghaier, the two men accused of a terrorist plot to derail a Via Rail train travelling between Toronto and New York. Mercedes Stephenson explains – Aug 27, 2019

Federal officials have abandoned their latest attempt to deport Raed Jaser after the Ontario appeal court threw out his 2015 conviction for plotting to attack a Toronto-bound passenger train.

The Canada Border Services Agency had argued at a hearing at Ontario’s Bath prison in March that Jaser, who was born in Abu Dhabi and is not Canadian, was inadmissible to Canada for terrorism.

A decision was pending from the Immigration and Refugee Board when, last week, the Ontario Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for Jaser due to problems with the way his jury was chosen.

As a result, the CBSA has asked the IRB to withdraw the deportation case against Jaser, said Melissa Anderson, an IRB spokeswoman. “The Immigration Division has granted the withdrawal,” she said.

READ MORE: Alleged ISIS supporter released after Federal Court rejects government’s appeal

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It was the second time the federal government had tried and failed to deport Jaser, who arrived in Canada from Germany on a false passport in 1993 and made a refugee claim that was rejected.

Within a few years of his arrival, Jaser accumulated criminal convictions for writing bad cheques and other frauds and for uttering threats, after he was told to leave a bar in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Officials tried to deport him at the time but the United Arab Emirates would not accept him, nor would Germany or Jordan, and he was declared “stateless” and released from custody.

He later obtained pardons for his crimes and applied for permanent residence, which he received in 2012 — the same year he allegedly began plotting an Al Qaeda-linked terrorist attack in Canada.

Mohammed Jaser, centre, father of Raed Jaser, leaves court after two men accused of plotting to attack a Via Rail passenger train travelling from New York to Toronto were found guilty of terror-related charges in Toronto, March 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Mohammed Jaser, centre, father of Raed Jaser, leaves court after two men accused of plotting to attack a Via Rail passenger train travelling from New York to Toronto were found guilty of terror-related charges in Toronto, March 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette.

Together with Chiheb Esseghaier, a Tunisian living in Montreal, Jaser was arrested by the RCMP in 2013 over a foiled conspiracy to derail a passenger train as it approach Toronto.

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He was convicted four years ago, prompting the CBSA to resume efforts to deport him once his sentence expires and on March 29, 2019, an official questioned Jaser at the Bath Institution.

In his responses to the CBSA’s questions, Jaser confirmed he was born in the UAE, was not a Canadian citizen and had been convicted of charges including conspiracy to commit murder for a terrorist group.

READ MORE: Men found guilty in Via Rail terror plot win new trial over improper jury selection

“We argue that Mr. Jaser’s convictions are within the definition or a terrorism offence,” the CBSA representative argued.

“The minister submits that we have met the burden and that Mr. Jaser should be found inadmissible.”

Jaser’s lawyer argued the hearing had “not been conducted in a fair manner” and “it would be improper to find Mr. Jaser inadmissible after following an unfair process.”

Because the Ontario appeal court was reviewing his conviction, it was wrong to hold inadmissibility proceedings, the lawyer said. “This proceeding should to have got this far,” the lawyer said.

The Public Prosecution Service said it intends to hold another trial but no date has been set.

Stewart.Bell@globalnews.ca

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WATCH: (Sept. 23, 2015) Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser get life in prison for VIA Rail terror plot

Click to play video 'Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser get life in prison for VIA Rail terror plot' Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser get life in prison for VIA Rail terror plot
Chiheb Esseghaier and Raed Jaser get life in prison for VIA Rail terror plot – Sep 23, 2015