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Trial of Calgary man facing terrorism charges begins after judge rejects bid to throw out case

Jamal Borhot is charged with three counts of participation in terrorist group activity. (Source: Court document) Jamal Borhot is charged with three counts of participation in terrorist group activity. (Source: Court document)
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A judge has dismissed an application to throw out the case of a Calgary man accused of going to Syria to fight with ISIS, for what the defence said were unreasonable delays in the court process.

Justice Corina Dario made the ruling on Monday, saying 34-year-old Jamal Borhot’s rights had not been violated, which allowed the trial to officially begin.

Borhot pleaded not guilty to the charges.

He is accused of travelling to Syria in 2013 and 2014 to commit terrorist acts with the Islamic State and was charged in 2020 with three counts of participating in terrorist group activity.

The ruling on the charter challenge follows nearly a nearly week-long hearing on the Jordan application to have all charges stayed.

Borhot’s lawyer, Pawel Milczarek, argued in the hearing that the trial timeline had exceeded limits set by the Supreme Court of Canada under its 2016 Jordan decision.

According to the Supreme Court's 2016 R. v. Jordan decision, trials must be heard within 30 months after charges are laid for a province's superior court, such as the Court of King's Bench of Alberta.

The charter challenge alleges Borhot's right to a trial in a timely fashion was violated, citing the 44-month-and-eight-day delay from Borhot being charged in September 2020 to the anticipated last day of the trial on May 31, 2024.

Crown prosecutors argued the delays were a result of the defence and exceptional circumstances from a complex case involving national security.

Justice Dario is expected to give the reasoning behind her decisions later this week.

Borhot's co-accused and cousin, Hussein Borhot, was sentenced to 12 years in prison in May 2022 in a separate trial.

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