Trial for terrorism : “the best defense is not to have one”

News 20 December, 2017
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    Wednesday, 20 December 2017 11:21

    Wednesday, 20 December 2017 11:21

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    The strategy of the defence lawyer in the trial of two young Montrealers found not guilty of serious charges in connection with terrorism has certainly helped in the verdict of acquittal, pronounced Tuesday.

    According to François-David Bernier, a contributor to the issuance of The 9 Hours, the fact of not being presented for defence was a successful bet, for the defence of Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali.

    The two defendants did not testify, and no expert or witness has been called to the bar. Only the pleadings of their lawyers have been taken into account by the jury.

    “The clients (the accused) don’t like it (not to defend). But sometimes, the best defense is sometimes you do not have one. This is never an easy decision, but for them it worked”, explained Me Bernier.

    For an accused, a witness in a trial also means putting themselves in danger, and risking looking bad, or even contradict each other during a cross-examination of the Crown.

    “It is certain that there is a danger there,” says the criminal defence lawyer.

    Besides, even if they were acquitted, Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali must meet several conditions, and even to report it to the police.

    The evidence presented by the Crown was circumstantial, not direct, the jury did not buy.

    According to the criminalist, the two young people released, who had perhaps acted out of curiosity, visiting particular sites of the islamic State, have certainly learned a lesson the hard way.

    “Regardless of what they had in mind, they have certainly had to learn all this history,” says the criminal defence lawyer.

    Sabrine Djermane, 21 years old, has been released from all the charges which she was facing. His spouse El Mahdi Jamali, 20 years old, has been acquitted of terrorism but convicted of a charge of having had in his possession explosive substance without lawful excuse.

    He may face a maximum of five years imprisonment, but he had already served the equivalent of 48 months in preventive detention.

    The couple was accused of having attempted to leave the country to commit a terrorist act abroad, to have had in his possession explosive substances, and of having committed a crime for the benefit of a terrorist organization.


    During the trial, which lasted three months, the federal Crown had, among others, revealed that the two accused went to the propaganda jihad, and that the police officers had found home in a recipe for a bomb, identical to one broadcast by Al-Qaeda.

    The defense, for its part, had argued that the evidence was not sufficient to convict “beyond a reasonable doubt”, the accused. The jury gave them reason.

    “This is not a crime to be curious,” commented Me Tiago Murias of the defence, after the verdict.

    The jury ignores, however, that the sister of Djermane was supposed to be the cookie-feature of the federal Crown. Rania Djermane had made several incriminating statements against his sister Sabrine, but she finally returned his jacket before the trial.

    Rania Djermane was also accused of obstructing justice in this case.

    In a press briefing, the defence lawyers are said to be “very happy” and satisfied with the verdict.

    “They [Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali] have shed tears, there was not a lot of words, told Me Charles Benmoyal. It is the emotion that has taken over. They are not terrorists.”