TORONTO—Ontario prosecutors want a Toronto man who tried to join ISIS terrorist group in Syria to spend six years behind bars, while his defence team is pushing for a sentence of about half that given what they say is their client’s commitment to deradicalization.
Pamir Hakimzadah, 29, pleaded guilty earlier this month to one count of leaving Canada to participate in a terrorist activity.
His lawyer, Luka Rados, argued for a sentence of three years and seven months plus three years probation at a sentencing hearing held Tuesday in Toronto. That would allow for Hakimzadah’s immediate release after he receives credit for time already spent in custody since his June 2016 arrest.
Court heard that Hakimzadah left Toronto in October 2014 and flew to Istanbul with the goal of finding a way into Syria to join ISIS.
He was turned in to local authorities by a taxi driver in Turkey who suspected Hakimzadah wanted to join the terrorist group, and was sent back to Canada. A family member then turned him over to police two years later. Hakimzadah admitted he viewed ISIS propaganda videos online and became sympathetic to their viewpoint.
In arguing for a shorter sentence, Rados outlined his client’s commitment to a deradicalization program that would involve “spiritual and psychiatric counselling.”
Crown attorney Christopher Walsh was dubious of the defence’s deradicalization plan.
“We have no insight from anybody (about) how he did come to these beliefs,” Walsh said. “Without any insight into how he was radicalized, there’s no basis that he can be deradicalized.”
Justice John McMahon will sentence Hakimzadah on Thursday.
Hakimzadah spoke at the end of the hearing when given the chance by the judge.
“I do take full responsibility,” he said. “I want you to know I will absolutely abide by any sentence that court imposes on me. I look forward to being reunited with my family.”
His mother cried in court.