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Terrorism charges laid against man in Edmonton City Hall shooting

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Terrorism charges have been laid in connection with the January attack on Edmonton City Hall.

RCMP announced the charges against Bezhani Sarvar, 28, on Monday.

He faces:

  • one count of counselling commission of terrorism offence contrary to section 83.221(1) of the Criminal Code;
  • possession of property for terrorist purposes contrary to section 83.04 of the Criminal Code; and
  • a variety of other charges related to weapons and an explosion which also constitute terrorism offences, RCMP said.

Sarvar, a former commissionaire from Edmonton, is accused of firing several shots inside city hall on Jan. 23 as well as throwing a Molotov cocktail from the second floor. No one was hurt.

Hearing about the charges for the first time on Monday, Ward pihêsiwin Coun. Tim Cartmell, who was in the building on Jan. 23, said, "Good."

"He did terrorize, so he should be charged with that."

A national security expert, John Gilmour, told CTV News Edmonton three thresholds need to be met for terrorism charges: motivation, intent and the act.

In a nearly five-minute video police say may be connected to the city hall shooting, a man wearing a security jacket talks about his mission and the issues he believes society is facing.

A criminal defence lawyer thinks that video could be enough to incriminate the accused.

"That's about as easy of a line or two for the police to hear which would lay a foundation for counselling to commit a terrorist offence," Ari Goldkind said.

CTV News Edmonton has been unable to confirm who posted the video.

City hall is still closed to the public. Administration is considering options to bolster the building's security.

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi did not comment on the nature of the charges against Sarvar but spoke about the lasting impact of his alleged crimes.

"We want to make sure that such events are avoided in the future and we're looking at some security features that will be as non-intrusive as possible, at the same time, keep this beautiful place a community place, open for public to come and engage with council and safe place for everyone to work."

Sarvar was charged previously by Edmonton police with firearm and explosive offences.

He is being held at the Calgary Remand Centre and is scheduled to appear in court on March 5.

Canada's national defence minister, Bill Blair, also took questions about the charges while in Edmonton on Monday, noting, "It is very concerning. Laying of a charge of terrorism, that's a very serious matter and a matter that requires a high evidentiary threshold."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Evan Kenny

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