It’s a source of wonderment to my criminal lawyer friends that people accused of committing serious crimes can’t be bothered to shut-the-fuck-up and get a lawyer after they’re arrested. For Crowns, this tendency, while baffling, is appreciated, since it makes convictions that much easier. The running theory is that crime makes you stupid, and if anyone ever wanted proof of that proposition, I give you Chiheb Esseghaier, one of the suspected accused in the alleged plot to attack a VIA train.
One minute he’s sitting in a McDonalds in Montreal, no doubt happily chewing a Big Mac, the next minute the RCMP is hauling him down to the local jail and charging him with various terrorism related charges, including conspiring to commit murder. Serious stuff. Canadian courts may be pretty wimpy on most crimes, but when it comes to terrorism, forget throwing the book, they throw the whole fucking library (just ask Mohammad Khawaja – who appealed his 10.5 year sentence on terrorism related charges only to be handed a life sentence by the Ontario Court of Appeal for his troubles) .
So you might think that Mr. Esseghaier might want to use some of his constitutionally protected rights – say, his right to silence, or his to right to counsel – to minimize the likelihood that he’ll spend the next few decades as a guest of her Majesty (before, in the unlikely event he’s ever released from prison, being unceremoniously booted back to Tunesia – where I doubt he’ll be warmly received). Because that’s the sort of thing a rational person might do.
But not Mr. Esseghaier. No sir. He gets hauled into court in Montreal and turns down the offer of a lawyer. Because it’s not like having an advisor with a passing familiarity with Canadian law – possibly even a copy of the Criminal Code – could possibly help him, right? Sure, the Crown has a small army of lawyers working the case, all aiming to make their name on a high profile terrorist case, but Mr. Esseghaier has a MA in biology, so I’m sure he knows all he needs to know about the law. Good lord. I don’t know much about criminal law, but I do know that when the self-same government that is trying to put your ass in jail for the rest of your life offers you a nickel’s worth of free legal advice, you should take it.
As for the right to silence, well, Mr. Esseghaier shows up in court today, still without a lawyer, and, ignoring the judge’s advice that, maybe, he might want to be careful about what he says – the Crown is trying to put his ass in jail for the balance of his life, after all – he starts challenging the validity of the charges against him:
First of all, my comment is the following because all of those conclusions was taken out based on criminal code and all of us, we know that this criminal code is not holy book, it’s just written by set of creations,”…
“And the creations, they’re not perfect because only the creator is perfect, so if we are basing our judgment … we cannot rely on the conclusions taken out from these judgments.
Hmm, I’m not a criminal lawyer, but I’m pretty sure the RCMP would have advised him of his right to silence. This would have been a good opportunity to exercise it. And for the love of God, if you choose not to exercise your right to silence, don’t go spouting off like some sort of crazy-ass religious terrorist because, well, that’s what you’re accused of being. Apart from not being a legally recognized defense, the “the law doesn’t apply to me because it’s not God’s law” defense sounds an awful lot like a justification for his alleged crimes, not a denial. Maybe next time, try something along the lines of the “I didn’t do”, “This is all a misunderstanding”, “There’s been some kind of mistake”, “I think you’re looking for my roomate, Bob, that fucker’s crazy.”
And pity poor Mr. Jaser, Mr. Esseghaier’s co-accused. He has the good sense to lawyer-up, and let his lawyer do the talking (which he does by uttering the usual pro forma denials, which at least raises the possibility that his client isn’t a piece of shit), and his fucking co-accused shows up in a packed courthouse, filled with journalists, going on like he’s Osama-fucking-Bin Laden. Mr. Jaser’s lawyer was probably sitting despondently in the courtroom, holding his head, wondering how the fuck he’ll run a defense with this loose cannon rolling around on deck.