A former Halifax taxi driver convicted of sexual assault in 2020 is now wanted on a warrant for his arrest after he allegedly fled Canada – and potentially to Baghdad, Iraq.
The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal held an emergency hearing on May 25 after it came to the attention of Crown prosecutors that Bassam Al-Rawi had breached the conditions of his bail provisional.
His lawyer, Ian Hutchinson, also asked to be removed from his position as Al-Rawi’s appointed lawyer, which the judge authorized.
In December 2020, Al-Rawi was sentenced to two years in prison for the December 15, 2012 sexual assault of a woman he picked up in downtown Halifax.
Al-Rawi was released on bail after his conviction and was living under conditions in Germany pending this appeal. The appeal was heard in June 2021 and was dismissed by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
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His defense team wanted to take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada and Al-Rawi was granted temporary release under certain conditions, including living with his friend Fari Faisal Jeshami in Ottawa.
The emergency hearing was held in the Court of Appeals last Wednesday, after Jeshami emailed the court clerk, Al-Rawi Hutchinson’s attorney and Crown prosecutor Mark Scott, to informing them that he wished to terminate his bond.
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Judge Carole Beaton, who was presiding over the hearing, heard that Jeshani had received an email from Al-Rawi on May 13 indicating that he had made arrangements to travel to Nova Scotia and surrender to complete his sentence, despite the provisional release. This email included a boarding pass for Halifax.
Hutchinson had confirmed that Al-Rawi had in fact not visited Springhill Institution or any other federal correctional facilities in Nova Scotia.
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Crown prosecutor Mark Scott told the judge: ‘Without being able to go into specifics at this time, based on an ongoing police investigation, it appears that Mr Al Rawi may be in Baghdad.’
“How he got there, we don’t know. We know he has used pseudonyms in the past,” Scott said, noting that Al-Rawi had surrendered his passport for bail.
Scott said police were relatively confident he was outside North America, having purchased a one-way ticket via Turkish Airlines to Istanbul.
Judge Beaton found that the Crown had documentary evidence contrary to the interim release order.
In an email to Global News, the Nova Scotia Bureau of Public Prosecutions confirmed that it was informed that “under the guise of turning himself into prison authorities”, Al-Rawi had left Ottawa.
“As this matter is currently under investigation by the police, we are unable to comment further on this matter,” the email read.
During the hearing, the court signed an arrest warrant for Al-Rawi.
Global News contacted Halifax Regional Police who were investigating the case, but did not hear back in time for publication.
– with files by Rebecca Lau.
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