A government lawyer is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing of a long-simmering lawsuit from a Montreal man over Canada’s role in his detention in Sudan. Abousfian Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen who was detained and tortured in Sudan, speaks during a press conference on developments in his civil court case against the federal government, on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 14, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

Abdelrazik torture lawsuit delay would be unconscionable: lawyer

The federal government is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing

The federal government is making a last-minute plea to delay the Federal Court hearing of a long-simmering lawsuit from a Montreal man over Canada’s role in his detention in Sudan.

The case was set to begin Monday, nine years after Abousfian Abdelrazik filed the suit against the federal government to win an apology and compensation for his ordeal.

Last week, the Justice Department advised Abdelrazik’s lawyer that the government would seek an adjournment of the civil trial to review the thousands of pages of evidence disclosed to date.

Federal lawyer Sandy Graham told the court Monday that the passage of time means the documents must be given a second look to ensure the most complete record possible is available for trial.

The documentation needs to be “defined and refined” to ensure there are no inconsistencies, which means putting the trial on hold, he said.

Graham could not tell Justice Martine St-Louis how long it would take to complete the review under provisions of the Canada Evidence Act.

RELATED: Several parliamentarians to testify in man’s lawsuit over detention in Sudan

Abdelrazik’s lawyer, Paul Champ, said postponing the trial would be “an unconscionable waste of court resources,” given that out-of-town witnesses have made arrangements to testify.

St-Louis is expected to rule soon on whether to grant the delay.

Abdelrazik, 56, was arrested during a 2003 visit to Sudan to see family. He was interrogated in custody by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about suspected extremist links.

Abdelrazik, a Canadian citizen who denies any involvement in terrorism, also says he was tortured by Sudanese intelligence officials. Federal officials maintain they knew nothing of the alleged abuse.

In 2009, a Federal Court judge concluded CSIS was “complicit” in Abdelrazik’s detention. The judge also found that, by mid-2004, Canadian authorities had determined they would not take any active steps to assist Abdelrazik’s return to Canada, and would consider refusing him a passport in order to thwart his homecoming.

The federal government has provided apologies and compensation to other Canadians — including Toronto-born Omar Khadr — for the government’s role in their detention abroad, but earlier this year, officials abruptly cancelled mediation talks with Abdelrazik.

Champ played down government suggestions that he had objected to the federal effort to review the many memos, emails and other documents that will come up at trial.

Champ said while he had raised some questions about the process, he wasn’t pushing the government to release more information or taking issue with portions that have been blacked out.

Abdelrazik has been waiting long enough and simply wants to get on with the case, Champ said.

In addition, one key witness, Sen. Mobina Jaffer — who visited Abdelrazik in Sudan — is slated to undergo cancer treatment later this month, complicating scheduling efforts.

Champ fears the review process, if allowed to proceed, could drag on for years.

“They’ve had nine years to do it,” Champ told the judge Monday.

“This is about the administration of justice. This is about the integrity of court proceedings.”

The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna man faces potential charges after confrontation with RCMP

The incident occurred on May 30, just after 6:30 p.m.

Okanagan-Shuswap charities to benefit from gas fill-up

Armstrong Regional Co-op fundraiser goes Sept. 15 at gas bars in Vernon, Armstrong and Salmon Arm

Enderby park underwater as river levels rise

Tuey Park, Waterwheel Park, closed; Waterwheel Street restricted to local traffic

WATCH: Vernon restaurant raises $7K in memory

The Fig donated proceeds from a day’s sales, along with donations, in memory of Heidi Bannick

Bay shines spotlight on vintage Vernon store

Downtown Vernon shop makes another appearance on iconic department store’s homepage

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

High water levels on Shuswap Lake may close popular Canoe Beach

Rain forecast could flood entrance tunnel, city staff to evaluate

189 homes in Grand Forks area given evacuation orders

Homes are in the Nursery, Grand Forks Airport, Gilpin Rd., Johnson Flats and Granby Rd. areas

Summerland man rescued following ATV accident

Helicopters used to transport injured man to Kelowna for treatment

Mother bear and two cubs spotted in West Kelowna

Residents of Shannon Lake are urged to be on the look out for three bears in the area

Social justice advocate yells at Kelowna council, demands presence at Black Lives Matter rally

Heather Friesen has again taken to council chambers to make her opinion heard

Youth filmmakers tackle technology addiction, relationships, cyber-bullying

The Kelowna couple won a grant from Telus STORYHIVE

Dyer: I left my heart in the desert

Kristy Dyer is a columnist for Black Press Media who writes about the environment

Most Read