Terrorist Aims To Practice Law In Toronto

Terrorist aims to practice law in Toronto

By Megan O'Toole
National Post
Posted: September 28, 2009, 3:43 PM

Certified by government as a danger to the public and with his immigration status still up in the air, a convicted Sikh terrorist will find out in the coming weeks whether he can practice law in Toronto.

Parminder Singh Saini, who has been fighting deportation from Canada since 1995, this month completed a good character hearing mandated by the Law Society of Upper Canada to determine whether he is eligible for a lawyers license. He says he is rehabilitated and admits his participation in a hijacking plot 25 years ago was morally and legally wrong.

The hearing panel has reserved its decision indefinitely, and the society said it could be weeks or even months before a result is handed down.

This is a complex decision and may take some time, communications manager Jane Withey said yesterday. The decision will be made public when it is released.

Mr. Saini, now 46, was among a group of hijackers who overtook a domestic Air India flight in 1984, purportedly in retaliation for the Indian armys assault on a holy temple in Punjab weeks earlier. They forced the plane en route from Srinagar, India, to New Delhi to land in Lahore, Pakistan.

No one was seriously injured in the incident, but witnesses said Mr. Saini, referred to as the team leader in court documents, fired a gun. A Pakistani judge said his goal was to intimidate and terrorize the crew members and the passengers on board the aircraft and to cow them down.

Mr. Saini was sentenced to death for his role in the crime, but that was later commuted to life imprisonment in a Pakistani jail. He was granted full parole after 10 years and ordered to leave the country, but instead of returning to his native India, he came to Canada in 1995 using false documents that identified him as Balbir Singh and settled with family in Brampton, Ont.

When immigration officials discovered the fraud later that year, Mr. Saini was detained and ordered deported. The immigration minister also certified him as a danger to the public, a designation that has not yet been lifted.

Mr. Saini has been fighting to stay in Canada ever since, a process that has been grinding its way through layers of federal bureaucracy for years. His case was bolstered in 1998 when the Pakistani president pardoned his criminal conviction, which became the basis for a 2000 Federal Court decision that overturned Mr. Sainis deportation order.

That was reversed on appeal the following year, however, with the court deciding a Pakistani pardon was not equivalent to a Canadian pardon.

Hijacking terrorizes all nations and society as a whole, the appeal court wrote in its decision. Leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada was denied.

Since being released from immigration detention in 1998, Mr. Saini has completed a bachelors degree at York University and a law degree at the University of Windsor. He applied for a license to practice law in the country in late 2006, despite his still-unresolved immigration status.

He has a couple of applications pending that argue he should be allowed to remain in the country because he is rehabilitated, and because he faces danger or risk of persecution if forced to return to his native India.

Neither Mr. Saini nor his lawyer, Frank Addario, would comment on the situation yesterday, citing the ongoing law society hearing.

Aurel Braun, an expert in international law at the University of Toronto, said while he was unfamiliar with the specific details of Mr. Sainis case, any bar association would be wise to tread carefully when presented with such a matter.

If you have someone who has committed a horrific act hijacking is an absolutely horrific act second, if someone has lied to come into Canada under a false name, thats another strike, Mr. Braun said. These would be red flags that would invite a very, very thorough investigation up and down this mans career, going back many years.


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by rossbcan
Sep 28 2009
4:25 PM

Terrorism is in the eye of the beholder.

I consider my ex-wife's divorce lawyer and all JUDGES who attempted to smite me and my daughters as TERRORISTS.

IMHO, Parminder Singh Saini should be allowed to join his moral peers. They deserve each other.
by Blutang
Sep 28 2009
4:29 PM

Toronto is an excellent spot for this guy. He'll be bathed in a soft light by the Toronto Star, and if he is arrested for doing anything wrong, Thomas Walkom will do his best if there is the slightest hint that the authorities have overstepped their bounds.
by Bay Bulls
Sep 28 2009
4:30 PM

Only in Canada could the sentence: “Certified as a danger to the public and with his immigration status still up in the air, a convicted Sikh terrorist will find out in the coming weeks whether he can practice law in Toronto” not be a punch line of a joke.
by Mickey35
Sep 28 2009
4:38 PM

If he is to be deported, then get him out of here…
by Mike from Saskatoon
Sep 28 2009
4:58 PM

I'd say this is not as straight forward as the headline implies.

For one thing, he has been pardoned by the President of the country that convicted him. This doesn't happen often I'd suspect, and leads me to guess that there may be more here than just another terrorist. Does a pardon wipe out the conviction?

On the other hand, he has shown himself willing to break criminal laws; should we have lawyers who are convicted criminals?

Has he renounced his previous extremism and criminal behaviour? I'm not saying that a renunciation would forgive everything, but refusing to renounce should be an automatic rejection.

As I said, I don't think this is a simple case.
by Barb R.
Sep 28 2009
5:31 PM

To Mike in Saskatoon:

You're kidding, right?

What part of “highjacker” is on our list of highly desirable qualities to look for in immigrants?

Is it any wonder the Americans don't trust us to secure our borders?

What a pathetic joke.
by Mike from Saskatoon
Sep 28 2009
5:51 PM

Barb R,

What part of “pardoned” didn't you understand?

I'm not saying I'd approve him if it were up to me, only that his pardon makes this not the slam-dunk rejection people like you seem to think it.

I also never said a word about his immigration status. On that issue, I'd say it should be an automatic denial for convicted criminals, except in the case of non-violent political convictions (ie. in repressive regimes).

Again, does the pardon wipe out his conviction? Has he renounced his criminal past? There are real questions here, and referring to the process as a “pathetic joke” only shows zero tolerance for thought, which is roughly equivalent to zero intelligence.
by gwestbound
Sep 28 2009
6:22 PM

by B Dubya
Sep 28 2009
6:47 PM

Look for this man not only to become a Canadian Lawyer but for the next liberal government to make him a judge. The Canadian Dream
by strath1
Sep 28 2009
7:56 PM

Sure, and while Canada is at it why not offer Osama Bin Laden and his muslim terrorist Al-Qaeda friends sanctuary. Gee, let's offer all of the world's terrorists a plot of land in “the true north strong and free!” (with a free toronto star subscription)
by Mr. C!
Sep 28 2009
8:05 PM

I'm tired of anti-lawyer comments, Rossbcan. My wife and father are both lawyers. Both are hard working, neither make more than $90k/year, and neither have ever performed a single dishonest transactions. I'm guessing you're one of the arrogant types that doesn't even really know what lawyers do, but you rag on them because others do. Shouldn't you be throwing the blacks and the Jews into the butt ends of your cynical remarks, too?
by rexx1
Sep 28 2009
8:31 PM

If a former member of the Hitler Youth can become Pope then anybody can do anything.
by Poison_Ivy
Sep 29 2009
11:43 AM

I'm sorry, did I read that right? Fighting deportation since 1995?!?! I didn't think it was possible, but I'm now even more disappointed in our justice system than ever before.
by Genghis
Sep 29 2009
1:53 PM

Poison Ivy..that is nothing.

Mahmoud Mahammed Issa Mohammed is living in Brantford and has been fighting deportation since 1988 and winning.A former PFLP member He is 66 now and claims he is too sick to be deported now.

Its the Liberal way!!
by Rusty S
Oct 01 2009
1:13 PM

Mr C!, anti-lawyer comments are generally well-deserved.

You said “I'm guessing you're one of the arrogant types that doesn't even really know what lawyers do, but you rag on them because others do”

Maybe Rossbcan has good reason for his comments, but hey, keep on guessing all you want.

Read more: http://network.nationalpost.com/np/blogs/toronto/archive/2009/09/28/terrorist-aims-to-practice-law-in-toronto.aspx#ixzz0T0Lr777d