One of the men charged with dealing drugs who appeared in a photo with Mayor Rob Ford is out on bail.
Ontario Superior Court Justice Gladys Pardu released Muhammad Khattak, 19, overturning a justice of the peace's decision to detain the young man last month.
"He has no criminal record, no other outstanding charges," said his lawyer, Nathan Gorham, after the bail review. "He's 19 years old and the charges, at their highest, aren't that serious. And there are questions about the strength of the Crown's case."
As part of his bail conditions, Mr. Khattak is barred from contacting any of the dozens of other people swept up in the June 13 Project Traveller raids.
The Toronto Police arrests targeted an alleged drug- and gun-running gang called the Dixon City Bloods, based in North Etobicoke.
Police arrested Mr. Khattak at his parents' home and charged him with trafficking cocaine for the gang, as well as trafficking marijuana. By that time, however, he had already gained a level of notoriety as one of the young men who appeared alongside Mr. Ford in a photograph published with reports about drug-use allegations involving the mayor. The photo featured Mr. Ford with Mr. Khattak and two other men identified as alleged drug dealers by Project Traveller investigators – Anthony Smith and Monir Kasim.
On March 28, another man involved in the drug trade shot Mr. Khattak and Mr. Smith outside a downtown Toronto nightclub. Mr. Khattak survived the attack with severe injuries to his hand and spine. Mr. Smith died. Last week, Nisar Hashimi pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the case.
Judge Pardu's reasons for releasing Mr. Khattak are protected under a publication ban. It will spare Mr. Khattak from incarceration for the period leading up to trial, which could run more than 18 months. He is barred from leaving his home without one of his parents, who promised to hand over $100,000 if their son breaks his bail conditions.
Mr. Khattak is also banned from using a phone, possessing a firearm and having illegal drugs. In court, he donned an Air Jordan hoodie, similar to the one he wore in the photo with Mr. Ford, and occasionally massaged his injured right hand.
"He's still in very bad physical shape," said Mr. Gorham of his client. "He has nerve damage in his arm. He has circulation damage in his arm. He has permanent damage to his back and doctors recommend he take immediate and aggressive physiotherapy if he's gong to regain any of what's been lost to this point."
Mr. Khattak's next court date is July 11 at a Metro West court.