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Controversial Facebook Photos Result In Weapons Prohibitions


1947-2014 (Archived)

Facebook photos result in weapons prohibitions

Youth posed with AK-47 to support banned group

Facebook photos result in weapons prohibitions

A Surrey judge ordered two weapons prohibitions Thursday after a youth last year posed with an AK-47 on a Facebook page supporting the banned terrorist International Sikh Youth Federation.

Provincial Court Judge Paul Dohm agreed with a Crown application that the youth, whose name is covered by a publication ban, should be prevented from owning a firearm for five years.

And Dohm also issued a six-month ban against Bahadur Singh Sandhu, of Surrey, who owned the AK-47 and two other rifles.

Crown prosecutor Todd Buziak told Dohm how the Integrated National Security

Enforcement Team was tipped to the Internet page by a police officer in Ontario doing terrorism research in February 2009.

The page showed several young people holding firearms, including the banned assault rifle, and "purporting to be members of a prohibited group," Buziak said.

The youth was listed online as ISYF vice-president.

Buziak said police found the youth at his school and he disclosed that the photo had been taken two months prior and he admitted the guns belonged to Sandhu.

Buziak said investigators then interviewed Sandhu, who was unaware the young people on the ISYF site had accessed his firearms and been photographed with them.

"He readily admitted the items did belong to him," Buziak said. Police found the AK-47, which had been purchased legally in 1988, but banned after the law changed in 1998. "It was an operable firearm," Buziak said.

Investigators also found two rifles that Sandhu at one point had permits to possess, though his licence had expired.

None of the firearms were properly secured at Sandhu's home, Buziak said.
Defence lawyer Alexander Willms said Sandhu had done everything in his power to get his licences up to date since the police visit last year.

And he noted that no ammunition was recovered at Sandhu's house last year, meaning the guns could not have been used at the time.

"What Mr. Sandhu needs here is no more than a slap on the wrist," Willms said.

He said the youth feels badly about what happened and was not really a member of the banned ISYF.

"The Facebook group is not the same thing as the terrorist group," Willms said.

Willms said the youth agreed to a five-year prohibition on owning a firearm, but that Sandhu wanted just a three-month suspension.

The Crown said an appropriate ban for Sandhu would be a year, though the judge said six months was sufficient, given that Sandhu was "by all accounts a very responsible individual with respect to firearms." The judge agreed the AK-47 should "be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen for destruction."

Willms provided a letter of support for Sandhu from a Surrey temple, but would not name the temple in court. He did say, however, that Sandhu attends Surrey's Dasmesh Darbar regularly. In fact, Sandhu is the brother of temple director Sudager Singh Sandhu.

Both Bahadur and Sudager Sandhu, as well as eight others linked to the ISYF at the time, were charged in 1997 with mischief for breaking tables and chairs at Surrey's Guru Nanak temple. Bahadur, now 50, was eventually acquitted but five others, including Sudager, were convicted.

Integrated National Security Enforcement Team officer-in-charge, Insp. Paul Richards, said last year that police got the Facebook page shut down after the investigation was launched. The ISYF was banned in Canada in June 2003 after members were convicted in several incidents related to their struggle for a separate Sikh nation, which they dubbed Khalistan.