A man accused of terrorism in Canada is demanding an attorney who will argue that he should be judged on the basis of the Quran rather than on the criminal law of that country. Surprisingly, he’s having a hard time finding one. One attorney quit as a result.
But Chiheb Esseghaier, accused of being part of a terrorist plot, is not one to keep quiet in court. As the Crown attorney and Justice of the Peace discussed his failed attempts to find a lawyer last week, Esseghaier’s voice rose above the rest, making clear he would not accept just anyone.
“I cannot take a lawyer who is not able to fulfill my need,” he said.
Co-accused in an alleged plot to derail a Toronto-bound passenger train, the 30-year-old Tunisian national has proclaimed his peculiar “need” at numerous court appearances since his April 22 arrest. Because the Criminal Code is not a “holy book,” he says, he requires a lawyer who will help him be judged by the Qur’an, not “a book written by humans.”
He’s had difficulty finding one. A Legal Aid lawyer visited Esseghaier in jail recently, but would not take him on because of his request. Without representation, Esseghaier, who returns to court later this month, may eventually have to mount his own defence — and he’ll have a hard time there, too, given that accused criminals can’t just opt out of the law.
I’d say he’s probably going to have to defend himself. And his “Allah told me to do it” defense is simply not going to work, nor should it.