Vive Le Canada

Report concludes Arar tortured
Date: Friday, October 28 2005

Report concludes Arar tortured


OTTAWA (CP) - Canada is angrily demanding answers from Syria after a report supporting claims that Maher Arar and three other Canadian prisoners were tortured.

Foreign Affairs Minister Pierre Pettigrew called in Syrian ambassador Jamil Sakr on Thursday following the release of the fact-finder's report that says the four men tell credible stories of being brutally abused in Damascus prisons.

Pettigrew said he expects Syria to investigate the findings and prosecute the jailers responsible: "These people should be convicted."

The report, prepared by law professor Stephen Toope for the federal inquiry into Arar's case, concludes the Ottawa engineer was repeatedly tortured in Damascus.

Toope believes another Ottawa man, Abdullah Almalki, as well as truck driver Ahmad Abou El-Maati and geologist Muayyed Nureddin, both of Toronto, also suffered serious physical and psychological trauma.

Arar, a Syrian-born Canadian, was detained at a New York airport in September 2002 on suspicion of being a member of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network.

U.S. authorities subsequently deported Arar to Syria via Jordan. He denies any involvement in terrorism.

After being released in 2003, Arar made detailed allegations about extensive interrogation, beatings and being whipped with electrical cable in grim Syrian prison cells.

In early 2004, the federal government established an inquiry to determine the role Canadian officials played in Arar's case.

Arar wants to know whether Canada is complicit in contracting out torture to a country known to use violent methods to extract information from prisoners.

Toope, president of the Montreal-based Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, conducted interviews with several people, including the four former prisoners, and studied classified government documents.

The former dean of McGill University's law school was blunt in his findings about Arar's mistreatment.

"I conclude that Mr. Maher Arar was subjected to torture in Syria," says the report.

"The effects of that experience, and of consequent events and experiences in Canada, have been profoundly negative for Mr. Arar and his family."

The report says Arar has experienced serious psychological effects and near-catastrophic financial woes.

This article comes from Vive Le Canada

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