A onetime mixed martial arts fighter facing suspicion he will commit a terrorist act has walked out of court free, but with a promise to return in two weeks.
The Crown requested a peace bond over Merouane Ghalmi. The 22-year-old Montrealer does not face any criminal charges, but the RCMP "has reason to fear will commit a terrorist act," according to a two-page summons produced in court. The reasons for the summons have been sealed by the court.
Mr. Ghalmi, accompanied by his lawyer, Mathieu Bédard, politely filed through a packed courtroom but refused to answer questions from reporters in the hallway. Crown prosecutor Lyne Décarie also refused to add any details on what Mr. Ghalmi is alleged to have been preparing.
"We're seeking an engagement he will respect certain conditions because we fear he could commit a certain terrorist acts," said Ms. Décarie.
Mr. Ghalmi will appear in court again on March 17. The summons was issued Feb. 23. Initially, the lawyers asked for a date in mid-April, but Judge Yvon Poulin told the court that was too far off.
Mr. Ghalmi's appearance came as Ottawa is debating Bill C-51, a law that would make it easier for the RCMP to obtain peace bonds in cases of suspected terrorism. Current law requires investigators to believe a person "will commit" a terrorist act. The new law would change the verb to "may commit."
The RCMP considered seeking a similar peace bond in the case of Martin Couture-Rouleau, but concluded they did not have enough evidence. Mr. Couture-Rouleau is the Muslim convert who used a car to kill Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent in a parking lot in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu on Oct. 20 last year. Mr. Couture-Rouleau's father had gone to police with concerns his son had become radicalized.
Little was immediately known about Mr. Ghalmi's background. Le Journal de Montréal reported he was a local ultimate-fighting champion when he suddenly quit two years ago.
"He said he left for family reasons, but we never saw him again. He seemed nice and normal," said Jacques Zoroyan, co-owner of the Thai Long gym where Mr. Ghalmi worked out.