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Calgarian accused of fighting for ISIS should see charges dropped due to delay, says lawyer

A Calgary man accused of spending a year fighting for ISIS in Syria should have all of his terrorism charges dropped because it’s taken too long to get to trial, says his lawyer. 

Jamal Borhot, 34, faces three terrorism-related charges and is set to go on trial later this month.

RCMP began investigating Borhot in 2013. The investigation spanned more than seven years before charges were laid in 2020.

Over the past four years, the case saw delays for disclosure, two changes of counsel and federal court proceedings 

Defence lawyer Pawel Milczarek filed a Jordan application, which is set to be argued on April 15.

A Jordan application seeks to drop charges for failing to meet time limits set by the Supreme Court of Canada in the 2016 R. v. Jordan case.

Court documents filed in support of that application outline a 44-month delay from when Borhot was charged to the expected trial conclusion.

14 months over limit

The Supreme Court of Canada says cases in the provinces’ superior courts have 30 months to conclude, otherwise the delay is considered unreasonable and a breach of Charter rights.

Borhot’s case is 14 months beyond what the courts say is acceptable.

Part of the delay is attributable to federal court proceedings — dealing with issues of what potentially sensitive disclosure could be provided to Borhot and his lawyer — and had to be concluded before the trial could begin. 

“Potential causes of delay to criminal prosecutions in cases involving national security issues are well-known, predictable and avoidable with due diligence from the state actors involved,” wrote Milczarek in his application. 

Borhot is accused of travelling to Syria in 2013 with his cousin Hussein. In 2022, Hussein pleaded guilty to terrorism offences, including kidnapping for a terrorist organization. He was handed a 12-year prison sentence.

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