Canada Terror trial: Potential jurors asked about impartiality toward Muslim suspects

22:41  12 september  2017
22:41  12 september  2017 Source:   The Gazette

Lac-Megantic jury selection process begins

  Lac-Megantic jury selection process begins Lawyers began the difficult task Monday of finding 14 jurors who are bilingual, impartial and without any personal connection to the 2013 rail disaster that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Que. Between 800 and 1,200 prospective jurors will be called to court for possible selection at the trial of three men who have pleaded not guilty to one charge of criminal negligence causing the death of 47 people.

The transcripts are a rare look at unfiltered, off-the-cuff remarks about what terror trial jurors really think. “Do you have any feelings about Islam or Muslims that you believe would interfere with your ability to serve impartially as a juror in this case?” Judge Edgardo Ramos asked the first potential

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Jury selection has begun at the Montreal courthouse in the trial of a young couple who face terror-related charges, including an accusation they planned to leave Canada to commit a terrorist act.

Early Tuesday morning, Superior Court Justice Marc David, the judge who will preside over the case, told the pool of roughly 150 potential jurors to expect the trial of Sabrine Djermane and El Mahdi Jamali to last 10 weeks. He also said they will hear from at least 31 witnesses. 

Djermane and Jamali, both now 20, were arrested in 2015 and have been detained since then. The two accused watched the jury selection from behind a specially-designed prisoner’s dock that keeps the accused sealed off from the rest of the room behind thick windows. 

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Other questions ask potential jurors about their attitudes toward Muslims and whether they are more likely to commit crimes than non- Muslims . He also faces a September trial . In their proposed questionnaire, Tazhayakov's lawyers ask a range of questions about potential jurors ' connections to

The pair are charged with attempting to leave Canada with the goal of committing a crime in another country, being in possession of an explosive substance, facilitating a terrorist activity and committing a criminal act for the benefit or under the direction of a terrorist group by having an explosive substance under their control. 

Before the selection process began, Judge David announced he wants to choose 14 jurors as opposed to the standard 12. 

David is asking potential jurors an unusual question before they are put through the standard procedures for jury selection: “Considering that Mr. Jamali and Mrs. Djermane are charged with terrorist offences, is your capacity to judge the evidence without taking a side, prejudice and partiality affected by the fact the accused are Arabic and of the Muslim religion?”

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Lawyers for a friend of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev want potential jurors in his trial to be carefully screened on their feelings about Tsarnaev, Muslims and the deadly attack itself.

Other questions ask potential jurors about their attitudes toward Muslims and whether they are more likely to commit crimes than non- Muslims . He also faces a September trial . In their proposed questionnaire, Tazhayakov's lawyers ask a range of questions about potential jurors ' connections to

The first three potential jurors said they would have no trouble being impartial and, within a matter of minutes, one of the three was selected to be part of the jury.

The fourth candidate asked to be exempt from the trial for health, professional and religious reasons. He said he is a Muslim “and I might know people who know the accused. This makes me anxious,” the man said while his voice shook. David agreed to exempt the man.

A woman who asked to be exempted trembled as she explained that she was not comfortable with the trial itself.

“I don’t feel well,” the woman whispered twice before David excused her.  

One candidate asked to be exempt because his uncle was killed in Afghanistan by a terrorist group. “Hearing today what the accused are charged with brought back bad memories,” the man said. David also agreed to exempt the man.

Another candidate was exempted after he said he would have difficulty being impartial because he worked at the same school as the accused before they were arrested. 

“I have seen what it is done to the college,” the man told David. 

In another somewhat unusual step in the jury selection process, David selected two women from the jury pool and asked them to size up the answers other candidates had given, and to say whether those other candidates seemed to be partial or impartial. The judge has already rejected two candidates that the two women deemed to be partial.

Despite this unconventional approach to jury selection, the process went smoothly Tuesday morning. Five people were selected to be on the jury before noon. 

pcherry@postmedia.com

Man, woman in custody following downtown stabbing .
A man and a woman are facing charges following a double stabbing in downtown Toronto early Sunday morning. The incident happened at Spadina Ave. and Harbord St. around 1 a.m., Toronto police Const. Craig Brister said.The two male victims are believed to be in their 20s and were taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.The two suspects knew each other, police said, and the investigation is continuing.In another weekend stabbing, one teen was taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries following a robbery in Rosedale.Police were called at about 11 p.m. Saturday to the area of Douglas Dr.

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