Saturday, March 26, 2016

Canadian-Libyan on trial in UAE has terror charges dropped against him

At a court hearing on Monday March 21 in Abu Dhabi UAE, Salim Alaradi, a Canadian-Libyan businessman, unexpectedly had terrorism charges against him replaced with lesser charges.

Alaradi was arrested in 2014. He claims he was tortured during interrogation. The original charges had to do with alleged links he had to the February 17th Brigade and the Libya Dawn. The latter is now the main militia group supporting the General National Council (GNC) in Tripoli the rival government to the House of Representatives (HoR) in Tobruk. The UAE is a strong supporter of the HoR and Khalifa Haftar commander in chief of the Libyan National Army of the HoR. Alaradi was one of 10 men of Libyan ancestry who were arrested August and September of 2014. The arrests were probably related to the conflict between the HoR and GNC. Alaradi did business with groups associated with the GNC. However the events took place between 2011 and 2013. This was before the anti-terrorism laws under which Alaradi was charged had even been passed. They were passed only in 2014. He is now charged with one count of collecting donations without proper permission, and another account of taking actions hostile to a foreign government by sending supplies to the two militias.
At the time, that Alaradi sent the supplies there was just the one transitional government. Alaradi had notified the UAE authorities that he was sending supplies to help the government after the fall of the Gadaffi regime. He denies supporting the militias. Ottawa lawyer Paul Champ who was hired by Alaradi's family was pleased that the terrorist charges had been replaced by lesser charges. The change was made without any notice and Champ was trying to find out the penalties associated with the new charges.
The court received a medical forensic report from a court-appointed doctor who claimed that there was no sign that Alaradi was tortured. However, it has been some time since Alaradi claimed he was tortured. Camp was not surprised at the report in that the the doctor asked Alaradi few questions and took less than 10 minutes to examine him. Champ said: "Given that cursory examination we didn't place a lot of confidence in the independence of this doctor."
A report by Canadian consular officers who had visited Alaradi said he was very distraught and had visible bruises when they met him. The report was obtained through a Freedom of Information request. When the officers visited Alaradi on December 31, 2014 in prison in Abu Dhabi.there were two-inch wide bruises on his left arm and leg.The report said: "As soon as consular officials asked the subject how he was, he became visibly upset. Twice during the interview, it was necessary for the subject to stop speaking in order to hold back tears," Albaradi claimed he had been hung upside-down and beaten and punched. His head and the soles of his feet were struck with batons. He said he had lost feeling in the toes of his left foot and in his right leg. Another Canadian with dual Libyan citizenship had also been arrested but was released without any explanation. He claimed he was arbitrarily detained and also tortured.
Three others had their charges changed as well at the same time as Alaradi. They all have been held now for a total of 550 days in custody. The four will be back in court on April 11. Two are Americans. The daughter of one of the Americans Amal Eldarat said:“Today’s change of course is deeply concerning. For more than a year and a half, the UAE government has had time to investigate the alleged charges against my brother and father and proceed with presenting their case. Now, after more than 550 days, they have been forced to recognize what my family and I have said along – Kamal and Mohamed are innocent of all terrorism charges.”Amal called on US officials to pressure the UAE to release both her father and her brother. If found guilty of the new charges the four could face up to 15 years in prison. The family of Albaradi who live in Windsor have constantly been urging the Canadian government to press for the release of Albaradi as show on the appended video.


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