Montreal: Belhassen Trabelsi wants to stay in Canada as a refugee

Belhassen Trabelsi wants to stay in Canada as a refugee: Foreign Affairs
Montreal Gazette January 29, 2011 3:02 PM

Benhadj Yahya holds up a cellphone image of Mohamed Touil, righthand man of Belhassen Trabelsi who is the brother-in-law of ousted Tunisian president Zine Al Ben Ali at Trudeau airport yesterday. With Yahya were (from left) Karim Mara, Ryan Bouazizi and Mohamed Zarrad.
Photograph by: JOHN MAHONEY, THE GAZETTE, The Gazette

MONTREAL – Belhassen Trabelsi, the billionaire brother-in-law of deposed Tunisian dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, wants to stay in Canada as a refugee, Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Saturday.

Trabelsi was in the Montreal area with his wife, four children and a nanny until a few days ago. His current location is unknown.

“I understand that there has been a request for refugee status,” Cannon said in an interview with the CBC News Network.
(…)

“We’ve indicated that these people are not welcome in Canada, but obviously that having been stated, Canada is nonetheless a country that has legislation,” Cannon said. “We do abide by the rule of law.”

Cannon said Trabalsi, “as well as the members of his family, do have the possibility to use the legislation that is in place to go before the courts and make his case.”

Tunisia has officially requested Trabelsi’s arrest.

Trabelsi reportedly left the Château Vaudreuil, a hotel west of Montreal, on Thursday for an undisclosed location, where he was to be questioned by officials.

He had been staying at the hotel since arriving in Montreal by private jet last week.


The Canada Border Services Agency refused to confirm that Trabelsi faced questioning. A statement by the CBSA noted that all “persons seeking to enter Canada must appear for an examination to determine whether they have a right to enter or become authorized to enter Canada.”

However, members of the local Tunisian community, which numbers 6,500 according to the 2006 census, were celebrating in the wake of media reports that Canada had revoked the permanent-resident status Tabelsi had obtained as an immigrant in a category reserved for wealthy investors.


© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Vancouver: Drug-smuggler Wolfgang Benedict Fitznar deported to Germany

Convicted Vancouver Island drug smuggler Wolfgang Fitznar deported
By TIFFANY CRAWFORD, Vancouver Sun January 28, 2011 Comments (3)

Two members of Canada Customs Vessal Rummage Team, aboard the Blue Dawn check the inside of the only remaining buoy aledgedly used to smuggle hashish accross the Pacific Ocean.
Photograph by: Rob Kruyt, PNG files

A Vancouver Island man who fled to Mexico from Canada eight years ago to escape a five-year sentence for drug smuggling but was later caught has been deported by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Wolfgang Benedict Fitznar, 62, left Canada on Tuesday, the CBSA confirmed Friday. Continue reading

Who tortured Abousfian Abdelrazik?

Abdelrazik appeals to UN to get off no-fly list
By Tobi Cohen, Postmedia News January 28, 2011

Abousfian Abdelrazik arrives at Pearson International Airport in Toronto seen in this June 27, 2009 file photo.
Photograph by: Fred Thornhill, Reuters

OTTAWA — A Montreal man who spent 14 months stuck inside the Canadian Embassy in Sudan is again appealing to the United Nations to be removed from the 1267 no-fly list — the source of his mobility woes since 2006.

(…)
The 48-year-old single father’s troubles began in 2003, when he returned to his homeland to visit his sick mother and was arrested for alleged ties to al-Qaida.

He says he was tortured during two stints in custody, and while both Sudanese and Canadian authorities eventually cleared him of any wrongdoing, he found himself stuck in Sudan because of a no-fly order and the fact his passport had expired.

The 1267 list was established by the United Nation’s Security Council in 1999 after the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and expanded after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

Abdelrazik spent 14 months living at the Canadian Embassy in Khartoum, but Ottawa refused to issue him travel documents so he could return home because of the UN travel restriction.

He finally returned to Canada in June 2009 after a judge ordered the federal government to bring him back.

His supporters risked prosecution and purchased his ticket to fly home, while others have faced similar risks by hiring the trained machinist since his return — primarily to talk about his ordeal.

Champ said human-rights experts and several courts in Europe already have ruled that the 1267 regime is “fundamentally unsound and fails to offer the most basic guarantees and principles of due process.”

While he plans to argue in federal court later this year that 1267 violates the charter and shouldn’t be respected in Canada, he said that, in the meantime, “Our client simply wants his life back by the swiftest means possible.

“Courts in the United Kingdom and Europe have already made such rulings,” he said.

“We will cross our fingers and hope that the UN finally decides to deal fairly with Mr. Abdelrazik and de-list him as quickly as possible.”

Twitter.com/tobicohen
© Copyright (c) Postmedia News

Ottawa: Egyptians chant in front of the Egyptian Embassy

Canadians rally to back Egypt protests
Last Updated: Friday, January 28, 2011 | 6:22 PM ET
CBC News

People in Ottawa chant ‘Free Egypt’ in front of the Egyptian Embassy on Friday afternoon. (Omar Dabaghi-Pacheco/CBC)
People in Ottawa and Montreal joined demonstrations Friday to support the protests erupting in Egypt.

Almost 100 people gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in Ottawa, while in Montreal, more gathered outside the Egyptian Consulate to demand President Hosni Mubarak be deposed and human rights in Egypt restored.

TRAVEL REPORT

More information from Foreign Affairs can be found here

The support came as tensions rose substantially in Cairo, where thousands of protesters tried to storm the Foreign Ministry and state television buildings, and Mubarak ordered the military into the streets to back up the embattled police.

“I’m here today just to raise our voice, to let the people know here what’s happening in Egypt …,” said one man outside the embassy in Ottawa. “We’re supporting our families, our friends, our population.”


In Canada’s 2006 census, 54,875 respondents identified themselves as being entirely or partly of Egyptian origin.

(…)

For Egyptian-Canadians, a cut-off of phone and internet service in Egypt Friday has meant not being able to contact loved ones caught in the turmoil.

One such person is Mohammed Shokr, who moved to Canada in 1980 and still has close family in Egypt. He told the CBC’s Reshmi Nair in Toronto that he wasn’t concerned for their safety yet.

“I think the situation is very serious, yes, but it’s not dangerous as far as I see,” he said. “The demonstrations have been very peaceful, or relatively peaceful so far. I am not concerned about their safety.”

Foreign Affairs updated its Travel Report Friday afternoon to add a travel warning, advising Canadians “against non-essential travel Cairo, Alexandria and Suez due to civil unrest.” “Major demonstrations are occurring in these cities,” the report on Foreign Affairs’s travel.gc.ca website said.

“There are reports of large scale arrests, property damage, injuries, and deaths from injuries sustained during the protests. A curfew is currently imposed.

“Canadians are advised to avoid all demonstrations and large gatherings, monitor local news reports and follow the advice of local authorities,” the advisory continued.

A spokesperson for Foreign Affairs said Friday there were no immediate reports of Canadians being injured, and that Foreign Affairs officials and at the Canadian Embassy in Cairo are closely monitoring the situation and stand ready to provide consular assistance to Canadian citizens as required.

Foreign Affairs said there are approximately 6,500 Canadians currently in Egypt, with another 80,000 to 90,000 Canadian tourists travelling to Egypt every year.
With files from Chris Carter in Ottawa

Vaudreuil: Fugitive Tunisian clique on Interpol list

Tunisia seeks arrest of man reportedly at Montreal hotel
Photographers stake out a hotel where Behbelhassen Trabelsi, the former Tunisian president’s son-in-law, is believed to be staying with his family, on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in Vaudreuil, Que. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson)
Updated: Thu Jan. 27 2011 6:36:41 AM
The Canadian Press

VAUDREUIL — A sprawling suburban hotel just outside Montreal has been swept up in an international diplomatic tempest involving escaped members of the toppled Tunisian regime.

Provincial police officers guarded the picturesque Chateau Vaudreuil hotel while staff, fearing an influx of unruly protesters, kept the news media at bay Wednesday.

(…)

Interpol is circulating a global alert from its Tunis bureau, seeking the arrest of Ben Ali and six of his family members, though it does not specify which relatives.

The alert asks member countries, which would include Canada, “to search, locate and provisionally arrest Mr. Ali and his relatives with a view to their extradition to Tunis.”

But the RCMP issued a statement explaining that the global alert does not constitute an arrest warrant under Canadian law, and that Canadian authorities would only be compelled to take action after receiving a direct request from Tunisia.

Officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the matter, citing legal concerns.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney hinted Wednesday that Trabelsi is a permanent resident and could not simply be removed through standard immigration procedures.

“I can’t comment on individuals because of the Privacy Act,” he told reporters in Calgary when asked about the Tunisian billionaire.

“I can tell you there were members of that family in Canada as permanent residents, and they have a legal right to be here.”

He added that if any members of the regime who were not residents of Canada tried to enter, the Canadian government would not give them a visa.

Kenney said travel visas are only granted to people who demonstrate an intention to return to their home country — which he called doubtful in this case. He added that deportation measures would be launched against any other ex-regime member entering Canada illegally.

As for Ben Ali, he said: “The former president of Tunisia is not welcome in Canada.”

Tunisian groups in Canada are worried Trabelsi will be able to slip out of the country. They see him as a key figure of Ben Ali’s regime, which they accuse of corruption, kidnapping and torture.

“It’s very important for us that Canada does not let him leave,” said Haroun Bouazzi, a spokesperson for a Tunisian solidarity group in Montreal.

“It’s vital that Canada and Tunisia co-operate and that this person doesn’t escape.”

Trabelsi is the eldest brother of Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, who is the object of much disdain in Tunisia. Her family is accused of siphoning millions of dollars from the state.

A U.S. ambassador referred to Trabelsi as the “most notorious family member” in a 2008 diplomatic cable that was released recently by WikiLeaks.

Missing person: Sorvida Aing likes to hang around the Côte Vertu metro station

Police seek help locating missing girl
January 27, 2011

Police say Sorvida Aing was last seen on Jan. 18 as she left her home for school in the morning. She has not been seen or heard from since.
Photograph by: Montreal Police, Handout photo

MONTREAL – Montreal police are seeking the public’s help in locating a missing 14-year-old girl from the Cartierville area.

Police say Sorvida Aing was last seen on Jan. 18 as she left her home for school in the morning. She has not been seen or heard from since.

Aing is described as 5 feet, 3 inches and 110 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes. She was wearing black pants and a black coat, along with knee-high black boots, at the time of her disappearance. She has been known to hang around the Côte Vertu metro station and the McDonald’s restaurant at 1565 Côte Vertu Rd., say police.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact Montreal police on their confidential tip line at 514-393-1133.
© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

Montreal: Can the Kazemi family sue Iran?

Court split whether Kazemi family can sue Iran
Published 40 minutes ago
The Canadian Press

MONTREAL—The family of a slain Canadian photojournalist has received mixed news in its attempt to sue the Iranian government over her death.

A Quebec judge ruled this week that the estate of Zahra Kazemi can’t sue Iran but he said her son’s case should be allowed to continue.

Superior Court Justice Robert Mongeon ruled Stephan Hashemi has the right to proceed with a lawsuit under an exception in Canada’s State Immunity Act.

The decision comes after a court battle in which the Iranian government attempted to block the Kazemi family from suing for $17 million — arguing it was immune from legal action in Canada.

Iran argued the State Immunity Act prevents foreign governments from being sued on Canadian soil.

Mongeon said the act wouldn’t allow the estate to sue because Kazemi’s death occurred in Iran. But an exception allows Hashemi’s case to continue because his trauma occurred on Canadian soil.
(…)

“On the whole, the reaction is mixed: we’re delighted that Stephan’s recourse has been allowed to proceed against all the defendants but by the same token we’re disappointed the estate’s recourse has been blocked by the State Immunity Act,” Johnson said Thursday.

“We’re going to look at our options in terms of having that part of the decision reviewed.”

Kazemi was an Iranian-Canadian citizen who was beaten, raped and killed in 2003 after being arrested for photographing relatives of detainees outside Evin prison in Tehran.

She was never formally charged with any crime and was quickly buried in Iran. Hashemi has tried unsuccessfully to have his mother’s body repatriated.

Lawyers for the Kazemi estate and Hashemi argued the case should proceed in Canada and that it would be impossible to get a fair hearing in Iran.

In a 56-page decision, Mongeon waded into the issue of whether Iran and its officials benefit from immunity from civil prosecution.
(…)
The civil suit named the Islamic Republic of Iran; its leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei; former Tehran prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi; and prison official Mohammad Bakhshi.

Mongeon ruled that all defendants, including the individuals named in the suit, have a right to immunity.

The judge also dismissed a motion aimed at having the State Immunity Act declared unconstitutional.

“The statute is constitutionally valid and must be applied,” Mongeon wrote.

……………

Quebec court split over whether slain journalist’s family can sue Iran SIDHARTHA BANERJEE
Montreal— The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 2:07PM EST
Last updated Thursday, Jan. 27, 2011 2:32PM EST
The family of a slain Canadian photojournalist has received mixed news in its attempt to sue the Iranian government over her death.

A Quebec judge ruled this week that the estate of Zahra Kazemi can’t sue Iran, but he said her son’s case should be allowed to continue.

Superior Court Justice Robert Mongeon ruled Stéphan Hashemi has the right to proceed with a lawsuit under an exception in Canada’s State Immunity Act.

The decision comes after a court battle in which the Iranian government attempted to block the Kazemi family from suing for $17-million, arguing it was immune from legal action in Canada.

Iran argued that the State Immunity Act prevents foreign governments from being sued on Canadian soil.

Judge Mongeon said the act wouldn’t allow the estate to sue because Ms. Kazemi’s death occurred in Iran. But an exception allows Mr. Hashemi’s case to continue because his trauma occurred on Canadian soil.

Judge Mongeon’s ruling was met lukewarmly by Mr. Hashemi’s defence team – and appeals might be forthcoming, lawyer Kurt Johnson said.

“On the whole, the reaction is mixed: we’re delighted that Stéphan’s recourse has been allowed to proceed against all the defendants, but by the same token we’re disappointed the estate’s recourse has been blocked by the State Immunity Act,” Mr. Johnson said Thursday.

“We’re going to look at our options in terms of having that part of the decision reviewed.”

Ms. Kazemi was an Iranian-Canadian citizen who was beaten, raped and killed in 2003 after being arrested for photographing relatives of detainees outside Evin prison in Tehran.

She was never formally charged with any crime and was quickly buried in Iran. Mr. Hashemi has tried unsuccessfully to have his mother’s body repatriated.

(…)

Montreal: No welcome doormat for Ben Ali family

Belhassen Trabelsi/Source here

Tunisians in Montreal protest Ben Ali family
Community members camp outside hotel
Last Updated: Thursday, January 27, 2011 | 11:29 AM ET
CBC News

Tunisia has issued arrest warrants for ousted dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali and for members of his family, including his brother-in-law, Belassen Trabelsi, who are believed to be in Canada. (Reuters)

About 60 members of Montreal’s Tunisian community held a quiet demonstration outside the Château Vaudreuil Wednesday evening and into the morning because they believe relatives of the ousted president of Tunisia are hiding in the hotel.

Belhassen Trabelsi, brother-in-law of Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, and his family are believed to have flown into Montreal on a private jet a week ago, and apparently booked into the sprawling hotel complex just off the west end of the Island of Montreal.

This has outraged Tunisians in the city because the billionaire businessman has been accused of stealing large amounts of money from Tunisia.

They want his Canadian assets frozen by the government, and his extradition to Tunisia.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has confirmed that some members of the ousted Tunisian president’s family are in Canada, and that they already have permanent resident status. He would not give their names, he said, because of privacy laws.

Speaking in Morocco, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said there will be no welcome mat in Canada for Ben Ali or his family.

“Canada will use all the tools at its disposal to co-operate with the international community in dealing with members of the former regime,” he said in Rabat following a meeting with Morocco’s prime minister and foreign minister.

“They are not welcome — I’ll be very clear — we do not welcome them in out country,” Harper said.

He said Canada welcomes the political change happening in Tunisia.
(…)
Tunisia also wants Ben Ali’s wife, Leila Trabelsi, arrested. French media have reported she left Tunisia with millions in gold bullion.

Arrest warrants were also issued for other family members, and Tunisian news sources say Trabelsi is included in the warrant.
‘A lot of angry Tunisians’

But Public Safety Minister Vic Toews isn’t saying if Canada will act on that warrant:

“They are not welcome in Canada, but beyond that I can’t say anything because there are potential proceedings that would affect them,” Toews said.

Montrealer Haroun Bouazzi said Wednesday that Tunisians in the city are thrilled to hear that Interpol is after Trabelsi.

Bouazzi speaks for a group of Tunisian expatriates fighting for justice in their homeland — the Collectif de solidarité au Canada avec les luttes sociales en Tunisie.

(…)
The cable describes the Trabelsi family in Mafia-like terms.

The family provokes the greatest ire from Tunisians, the cable says.

Belhassen Trabelsi, the ambassador went on to say, is the most notorious family member, and is rumoured to be involved in a wide range of corrupt schemes.

Tunisia’s transitional government issues arrest warrant for Belhassen Trabelsi

Tunisia seeks arrest of fugitive billionaire who landed in Montreal
LES PERREAUX and CAMPBELL CLARK
Montreal and Ottawa— Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 12:16PM EST
Last updated Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011 4:10PM EST

Tunisia’s transitional government has issued an arrest warrant for a billionaire member of the former ruling family now living in Canada and has asked Ottawa to freeze the family’s assets here, sources say.

Tunisian Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi said the government is seeking Belhassen Trabelsi, who arrived in Montreal with his family last week, along with ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife, Leïla Trabelsi, Mr. Trabelsi’s sister. Dozens of other family members have also been charged with financial crimes.

The three are charged with illegally obtaining property and the illegal possession and transfer of foreign currency. In addition, Mr. Trabelsi and others also face charges of unauthorized trading in arms and munitions.

The names of the most senior members of the family, including Mr. Trabelsi, have been sent on to Interpol, Mr. Chebbi told several news agencies in Tunis.

The former president fled to Saudi Arabia Jan. 14 after violent protests. Mrs. Trabelsi is said to have taken millions of dollars in gold bars with her.

Belhassen Trabelsi was the senior business figure in the clan and has permanent residency in Canada. While Canadian officials are investigating whether he has met all the criteria to retain his residency, they privately admit they may have little power to expel him.

Permanent residents can lose their right to stay in Canada if they have not spent two of the past five years here. But given that Mr. Trabelsi is already in Montreal, he could claim refugee status and stay in the country for years as the case plays out.

Canadian government officials have said they would consider issuing a freeze on the family’s assets if Tunisia asks.

(…)
Mr. Trabelsi and his younger relatives controlled banking, communications, transport and many other major Tunisian industries while living lavishly. They have been accused of siphoning billions in assets into European and other countries.

Western diplomats have described Mr. Trabelsi as the “most notorious” member of a family known for high living and strong-arm tactics.

With a report from The Associated Press

Mississauga: Shadi Taleb killed, nature of his injuries not specified

Teen killed in Mississauga, Ont., identified
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 25, 2011 | 6:01 PM ET
CBC News

Peel regional police have cordoned off a house on Full Moon Circle in Mississauga, Ont., where 17-year-old Shadi Taleb was found without vital signs late Monday. (CBC)

Seventeen-year-old Shadi Taleb was killed and his mother badly injured when they were attacked outside of their Mississauga home on Monday night.

Police said the teen was found outside of a home on Full Moon Circle near Eglinton Avenue and Highway 403.

Officers went to the home after someone called for help at about 10:30 p.m. ET.

When they arrived, the teen had no vital signs and was rushed to hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Const. Adam Minnion said Tuesday.

Minnion did not specify the nature of the injuries to the teen.

His mother, 45, was also taken to hospital, but her injuries were reported to be minor — a bruise to her face and an eye injury.

The woman’s name has not been released.


News reports Tuesday indicated the mother had told family members she had a gun held to her head during the incident — and that the family believes they were the target of a home invasion.

Police have refused to comment.

“Really what happened is still a bit of mystery for us as we try and piece this together,” Minnion said.

Police did say they are looking for as many as five suspects in the slaying.

Minnion said investigators may eventually find a home invasion occurred, “but certainly at this point of the investigation, the evidence does not suggest that.”

Police have not revealed any other details about the circumstances surrounding the killing, other than to say they are investigating and believe the suspects “may have left the scene in a light-coloured four-door vehicle.”

An autopsy on the dead teen will be performed on Wednesday.

An immigration database