The former bodyguard of dead Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi's adult son has been ordered deported from Canada for alleged complicity in war crimes, but don't expect him to be on a plane any time soon.
Australian Gary Peters promises to appeal an Immigration and Refugee Board decision Tuesday that implicated Peters in crimes against humanity, and that he helped Saadi Gaddafi get out of Libya in 2011 after his father was deposed and summarily executed by revolutionaries.
"Everything I have is here and I still believe I’ve broken no laws at all," Peters said, according to the National Post.
Peters, who runs a private security firm in Cambridge, Ont., said he believed authorities had targeted him simply because of his longtime association with Gadhafi.
“That’s a pretty lame excuse to kick somebody out of the country," he said.
Peters, 49, guarded Saadi Gadhafi for about a decade. After demonstrations against Gadhafi's father mushroomed into armed rebellion in 2011, Peters got an email from the younger Gadhafi inviting him to Libya.
"Gary, I need you ... I'm in trouble," said an email sent Feb. 25 of that year, according to the RCMP.
The CBSA alleged Peters provided close protection for Saadi Gadhafi during a half-dozen trips to Libya while the son of the dictator represented his father at public rallies and met with senior members of the regime.
During Peters' time in Libya, the Gadhafi government carried out "extensive" attacks on civilians, labelled opponents "stray dogs" and subjected them to arrest, torture and disappearances, board member Alicia Seifert said.
The board heard that Gadhafi ordered forces to fire on anti-regime protesters during a rally in Benghazi. But Peters said the decision came from another senior member of the regime.
While not accusing Peters of personally committing atrocities, Canada Border Services Agency accused him of providing "invaluable assistance" to the dictatorship and should be deported, making him an accomplice in the regime's crimes, the Post reported.
Saadi Gadhafi, a commander of Libyan special forces, managed to flee to neighbouring Niger in September, 2011, as his father's regime crumbled. He's since been granted asylum there despite being on Interpol's wanted list.
A few weeks before Gadhafi fled, Peters made a fact-finding trip to Libya funded by Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin, the international engineering and construction firm that had major contracts in the country.
Canadian consultant Cynthia Vanier, who travelled to Libya with Peters that July, is being held in a Mexican jail on charges she tried to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi and his family into that country using false documents, an operation allegedly funded by SNC-Lavalin executives who've since left the company.
Peters told the board hearing that while he worked for Gadhafi, he had nothing to do with the regime's atrocities and only helped the family flee the country because their lives were in danger.
But CBSA officer Kristen Smith told the hearing Peters was promised $67,000 for helping Gadhafi escape to Niger.
"Certainly I think that his involvement in smuggling Saadi to Niger should be considered a for-profit exercise," Smyth testified, according to the Post.
The Canadian Press reported Peters, who's lived in Canada as a permanent resident for at least 10 years, has 15 days to appeal for a Federal Court judicial review of the board's deportation order.
CBC News noted Peters can also seek a ministerial certificate to stay based on humanitarian grounds because his wife and children are Canadian and he has a business here.
Peters can fight the deportation for some time but he told CBC News last year "I think it's inevitable to be honest with you. I think [CBSA] made their minds up and that it's up to me to prove I didn't do these things."