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Via suspect unable to find lawyer willing to push for Qur'an-based trial

Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal appeared in a Toronto court on Wednesday, April 24, 2013. CITYNEWS/Marianne Boucher

The cases of two terror suspects charged in an alleged plot to attack a Via Rail passenger train are stalling because one can’t find a lawyer who will try convincing the court to judge him by the Qur’an.

Chiheb Esseghaier of Montreal and Raed Jaser of Toronto appeared via video in court on Tuesday and are set to return Aug. 19.

Crown lawyer Sarah Shaikh told the court that both have received their first wave of disclosure and a second set is coming.

Esseghaier has said at previous appearances that he does not want to be judged by the Criminal Code.

Shaikh told the court that Esseghaier’s legal aid application has been approved, but he still has not found a lawyer.

She was hoping to be able to schedule a judicial pre-trial on Tuesday but told court it’s not possible since only one of them, Jaser, has a lawyer.

Esseghaier and Jaser were arrested in April and face several terrorism-related charges in what police allege was a plot guided by al-Qaida in Iran to attack a Via train that runs between Toronto and New York City.

Police stressed at the time of the arrests that there was no imminent threat to the public.