One of the suspects in an alleged al-Qaida terror plot to derail a Canadian passenger train claimed in court on Tuesday that the charges against him were unfair – and based merely "on appearances".
At a brief hearing in Montreal, prosecutors laid outlined the accusations against Chiheb Esseghaier, 30. His alleged accomplice, Raed Jaser, 35, made a separate court appearance in Toronto. Charges against the pair include conspiring to carry out an attack and murder people in association with a terrorist group. Both are accused of receiving "directions and guidance" from members of al-Qaida in Iran.
Wearing a dark navy sports jacket and glasses, and a long thick beard, Esseghaier, 30, calmly confirmed that he understood the charges. He said in French: "The conclusions have been made based on acts and words which are only appearances." The judge told him he would have a chance to address the charges in due course. He was sent to Toronto and will appear in court there later this week.
Esseghaier, a Tunisian doctoral student at the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique, has "no fixed" address, according to police documents. Richard Roy, public prosecutions of Canada in Montreal's Palais de la Justice, said Esseghaier declined an offer of representation by a court-appointed lawyer...Take the lawyer, dude. You're going to need one.