First conviction entered under provision deeming murder to be first degree if part of terrorist act

Man enters guilty plea, sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole eligibility for 25 years

First conviction entered under provision deeming murder to be first degree if part of terrorist act

Canada has entered its first conviction under s. 231(6.01) of the Criminal Code, which deems murder to be in the first degree if committed in the course of terrorist activity.

Saad Akhtar, who entered his guilty plea on Aug. 26, was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole eligibility for 25 years.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Akhtar, acting alone, randomly singled out Annie Hang-Kam Chiu and beat her to death with a hammer on the sidewalk of a street in Scarborough, Ontario. That evening, he turned himself in to the Toronto Police Service, confessing that he has been inspired to conduct a terrorist attack by propaganda from terrorist entity ISIS but had abandoned his plan to commit multiple murders.

"As in all such acts of terrorism, no motivation justifies or can explain what remain brutal and senseless acts,” federal Crown attorney Jason Wakely said in a news release.

There was no evidence that Akhtar had been aided or abetted when committing the crime. The offender meant to cause fear and insecurity through this random violent act, Wakely said, adding that, while the sentence could not address the loss felt by the victim’s family, it could potentially give them closure and could reflect society’s denunciation.

Evidence in the initial investigation suggested that the incident, initially classified as a homicide, could have been a terrorist-related offence. The investigators thus contacted and requested investigative help from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) pursuant to the relevant protocols.

On Feb. 25, 2020, Akhtar appeared in court for a second time, following consultation with federal and provincial Crown attorneys and with the consent of Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General and the Attorney General of Canada. The Toronto Police Service and the RCMP, which jointly investigated the case, said in an update on the same day that the charge had been upgraded to first-degree murder, including terrorist activity, invoking s. 231(6.01) of the Criminal Code. The update said the incident appeared to be isolated and to present no further known threat to the public at that time.

The Public Prosecution Service Canada (PPSC) jointly prosecuted the case with Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General. PPSC is the organization responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction, and offers prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across the country. It seeks to avoid improper influence and to respect the public interest.

Recent articles & video

Law firm managers struggling to fill roles as demand for lawyers continues: recruiter report

Stikeman Elliott, McCarthy Tétrault assist in Osino’s $368 million sale to China’s Yintai

BC Supreme Court orders full compensation for victim in three-car collision

Alberta Court of Appeal upholds jurisdiction in cross-border divorce case

Federal Court denies anonymity for Uyghur applicants in permanent residence case

BC woman wins Provincial Court case against dentist for unauthorized and negligent dental work

Most Read Articles

BC lawyer ordered to pay up for attempting to use ChatGPT ‘hallucinations’ in application

Artificial intelligence hallucinations in legal research may become a thing of the past

BC Supreme Court deals with complex property and separation agreement dispute

US court says Baker & McKenzie LLP can face malpractice suit in Chicago