CSIS destroyed Charkaoui notes, court told
Sue Montgomery – The Gazette January 11, 2005
Canada's spy agency destroyed transcripts and notes from interviews it had with Adil Charkaoui, who has been held without charge since May 2003 on suspicion of being linked to the Al-Qa'ida terror network.
The revelation came yesterday during Charkaoui's fourth bid to be released on bail.
Crown prosecutor Daniel Roussy told the court the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has reports on the 2002 interviews based on the destroyed notes. But, as with most evidence in this case, the reports are secret and defence lawyer Dominique Larochelle isn't allowed to see them.
"I just learned today that (the documents) were destroyed," she said outside the courtroom yesterday.
Asked whether she thought the revelation would hurt the government's case against Charkaoui, Larochelle replied: "That will be up to the judge to decide."
Charkaoui had been planning to testify yesterday but Judge Simon Noel warned Larochelle against her client doing anything that could prejudice his case.
After a polygraph expert tested Charkaoui and issued a report saying the Montrealer was telling the truth, Larochelle was ready to put her client on the stand.
John Galianos testified throughout yesterday morning, saying that when asked four different ways if he was involved in terrorist activities, Charkaoui answered no.
Noel advised Larochelle that based on new evidence presented to him just last week - Moroccan newspaper reports that were picked up by Agence France-Presse and subsequently printed in French and Canadian papers - she should reconsider having her client testify.
The reports contend Moroccan authorities have identified Charkaoui as being a member of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group, an organization alleged to have ties to Al-Qa'ida.
Larochelle has filed an objection to the evidence; arguments are to be heard today.
People had to be turned away from the courtroom yesterday, as seats quickly filled with spectators. Charkaoui's sister Hind, his mother, Latifa, and his father, Mohammed, sat in the front row.
Charkaoui's 3-year-old daughter Khawla was able to give her handcuffed father, flanked by two beefy officers, a hug and a kiss. His wife stayed at home with the couple's 16-month-old son, Abdallah.
Charkaoui, like four other Muslim men in Canada, is being held on a security certificate, which means the Justice Department is not obliged to reveal the full extent of the evidence against him, except to a Federal Court judge.
In October, 60 individuals and legal organizations, including the Canadian Bar Association, denounced the federal security certificate process in an open letter to Public Safety Minister Anne McLellan.
It "puts all the power in the hands of the government of the day and effectively strips individuals of their right to defend themselves and to challenge the grounds of their detention," the letter states.
Last month, the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the constitutionality of the security certificate process. The decision is being appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Amnesty International and other human rights groups have stated Charkaoui would probably be subject to torture if he were deported to Morocco, his birthplace.
Last updated 13/01/2005