PARKING LOT JUSTICE FOR TERROR SUSPECTS
by Philippe Gohier
June 13, 2006
Employing a distinctly Western vernacular, one of the seventeen Toronto-area terror suspects told a courtroom yesterday that authorities “tortured us, straight up!” writes the Citizen. According to The National, the torture allegations presented by some of the suspects’ lawyers include claims that their clients have been physically abused by guards, that they are being deprived of sleep, and that they’re not given sufficient time to eat. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services has promised to look into the torture allegations, but denies that the suspects are being treated any differently than other inmates. Julia Noonan, a ministry spokesperson, tells the Citizen that “any kind of violence is not tolerated in our institutions, be it staff on inmates or inmates on each other…and appropriate action is taken if it takes place, including contacting police.” Despite yesterday’s imposition of a media ban that prevents journalists from reporting the evidence presented in court, the public allegations of torture seem to indicate that the legal battle of those the Post calls the “Toronto Seventeen” is spilling out from the courtroom and onto airwaves and newsprint.
The Star reports that one defence lawyer is also claiming that government sources are providing journalists with selected information meant to incriminate his client before the case goes to court. Rocco Galati, the lawyer for twenty-one-year-old Ahmad Mustafa Ghany, tells the Star that “(the Crown has) had ten days with the media, feeding the media whatever they want to feed the media, denying us disclosure of any evidence and doing what they need to do to conduct the trial in this parking lot of the courthouse.” It remains to be seen whether the media will pick up on these claims of selective leaks; judging from this morning’s news cycle, the lawyers’ torture allegations don’t appear to be having the desired effect. The Citizen writes that when Yasin Mohamed raised his arms in the courtroom alleging that his “wounds speak for themselves,” “there were no visible marks or bruises on Mr. Mohamed's arms or on any of the other fourteen suspects who appeared in court.” The Star's Rosie DiManno concurs, describing suspects who were “clean and tidy in their grey jailhouse pants and white tees,” without “so much as a bruise, or even a hair combed out of place.” If the publication ban has indeed expanded the battleground as Galati alleges, the courthouse parking lot—at least so far—appears no more welcoming than the jailhouse.