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Throw book at Khawaja: prosecutor

Convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja deserves to be put away for life and it's "highly questionable" he should ever be paroled, the Crown says.

Convicted terrorist Momin Khawaja deserves to be put away for life and it's "highly questionable" he should ever be paroled, the Crown says.

Federal prosecutor David McKercher said Thursday in Ontario Superior Court that the Ottawa man "remains a grave and palpable threat to society" who would again turn to plotting violent acts if given the chance.

"He's chosen a murderous way of life," McKercher told Justice Douglas Rutherford, who will decide Khawaja's sentence.

"There is no indication of remorse whatsoever."

Khawaja, 29, was convicted of five charges of financing and facilitating terrorism for training at a remote camp in Pakistan and providing cash to a group of British extremists, as well as offering them lodging and other assistance.

He was also convicted of two offences related to building a remote-control device to set off explosions, though there was insufficient proof Khawaja knew it would apparently be used to set off fertilizer bombs in London.

Khawaja, arrested in March 2004, pleaded not guilty to the charges and was tried without a jury last year in the landmark case.

The 27-day trial was the first major test of the anti-terrorism laws Canada passed after the 9-11 attacks on New York and Washington.

McKercher said Khawaja should receive two life sentences and a total of between 44 to 58 additional years in prison for remaining offences. It would mean no chance of parole for at least 10 years.

Khawaja's lawyer, Lawrence Greenspon, said last week the software developer has already paid his debt.

Greenspon argued Khawaja should receive no more than a total of 7 1/2 years for the seven offences. Since he has already spent almost five years in jail and offenders usually receive double credit for such time served, Khawaja should be set free, he said.

Five associates, including ringleader Omar Khyam, were convicted in London and sentenced to life in prison.

McKercher argued Khawaja's electronic trigger - known as the HiFi Digimonster - was a crucial component of a "deadly engine of destruction."

"Mr. Khawaja is the inventor, the designer, the creator."

McKercher said the Crown seeks a DNA sample from Khawaja, an order prohibiting him from owning firearms, and forfeiture of several items seized in the 2004 raid on his family home in east Ottawa. They include guns, knives, cash, electronic components, schematic drawings and books.

Last week Greenspon said an unduly harsh sentence would "pander to the collective, frightened will."

McKercher condemned those words Thursday as "harshly inflammatory and inaccurate," noting Canadians died in the 9-11 attacks, prompting a resolute response to the terrorist threat.

He said the Crown accepts the idea of crediting Khawaja with almost 10 years served, but urged Rutherford to denounce the "life-despising" extremist's actions by imposing a lengthy prison term.

Greenspon has characterized Khawaja as an angry young Muslim who wanted to join insurgents in Afghanistan, not bomb civilians in London.

McKercher stressed that the Digimonster was "to be used for a terrorist purpose" - it doesn't matter where - because ultimately "lives would be lost."

He contended Khawaja was content to leave the choice of targets to Khyam, "so long as the West was struck."

In advocating a stiff sentence, McKercher cited numerous other cases involving hijacking, firebombing of a school, an airplane bombing and a hostage-taking. But he suggested none offered an exact parallel.

"This case stands out almost alone at this point in history."

 
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