Convicted N.S. sex offender may have fled to Baghdad, says Crown

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Bassam Al-Rawi, convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 2012 after he picked her up in his cab, walks outside the courtroom during a break at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in 2020. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)
Bassam Al-Rawi, convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in 2012 after he picked her up in his cab, walks outside the courtroom during a break at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in 2020. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press - image credit)

A man convicted of a sexual assault in Nova Scotia has apparently fled the country, perhaps to Iraq, and is now the subject of an arrest warrant.

In February, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal granted Bassam Al-Rawi an interim release while his lawyer tried to take his case to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Al-Rawi was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman in his Bedford, N.S., apartment in 2012 and was sentenced to two years in prison.

Late last year, the Court of Appeal refused to overturn Al-Rawi's conviction. A justice of that court later agreed to release Al-Rawi while he prepared an appeal to Canada's top court.

His release conditions included that he stay with Fari Faisal Jeshami, a friend in the Ottawa area.

Jeshami agreed to post $50,000 to act as Al-Rawi's surety. Al-Rawi pledged $25,000.

Emergency hearing

But Jeshami says that he received an email from Al-Rawi on May 13 saying that he was surrendering to the federal prison in Springhill, N.S., to serve out the balance of his sentence.

Jeshami said Al-Rawi included a photo in the email that shows a boarding pass for an Air Canada flight to Halifax. There is no evidence Al-Rawi was on that flight.

Earlier this week, Al-Rawi's lawyer, Ian Hutchison, contacted the Crown to ask whether his client had reported to the federal prison, or perhaps to the Central Nova Scotia Correctional Facility, a provincial jail in Burnside, N.S.

Al-Rawi was not at either institution.

At an emergency hearing before Nova Scotia Court of Appeal Justice Carole Beaton on May 25, court was told that Al-Rawi appears to have bought a one-way ticket on Turkish Airlines to Istanbul and is now believed to be in Baghdad.

It is not clear how he may have been able to board an international flight, as he had to surrender his passport as a condition of his release.

Crown prosecutor Mark Scott noted during the hearing that Al-Rawi had used aliases in the past.

Since Jeshami had done his duty as surety and reported Al-Rawi, Beaton released him from any further responsibility.

Appeal denied

"I don't like this, what happened from Bassam," Jeshami told the judge. "I hate myself."

Hutchison had already had himself removed as counsel of record before the Supreme Court of Canada.

That court dismissed Al-Rawi's appeal Thursday.

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