The Ontario resident who worked as a bodyguard for Moammar Gadhafi’s son during the Libyan uprising has been ordered out of Canada after the Immigration and Refugee Board judged his services made him complicit in war crimes and a participant in human smuggling.
An IRB ruling delivered Tuesday said Gary Peters, a permanent resident, should be deported.
Mr. Peters, for his part, says he was just doing his job and broke no laws.
Mr. Gadhafi ruled Libya with an iron fist for nearly 42 years before he was ousted by an uprising in August 2011. Canada joined NATO countries in launching air attacks over Libya to support rebel fighters trying to remove Mr. Gadhafi. He was captured and killed by rebel forces in October 2011.
The Australian-born Mr. Peters worked as a bodyguard for the deposed dictator’s son, al-Saadi Gadhafi, who was a professional soccer player known for his playboy lifestyle and run-ins with European police.
Mr. Peters has said he helped get his employer out of Libya and into Niger as the Gadhafi regime crumbled.
The 49-year-old, who represented himself at the IRB hearing, has long-insisted he was just doing his job.
“I thought the allegations of the regime atrocities and that I was complicit or knew of them was unfair,” Mr. Peters told The Canadian Press from Cambridge, Ont.
“I still and always will maintain that I broke no laws.”
Mr. Peters added that while he assisted in getting his employer out of Libya, he did not organize the removal, nor did he see the younger Gadhafi over the border to Niger. Consequently, Mr. Peters said the human smuggling allegation against him should not stand.
“I’m very disappointed with the decision.”
Mr. Peters has 15 days to apply for leave for judicial review at Federal Court, something he said he plans to do.
The IRB admissibility hearings were held in Toronto from Jan. 14 to Jan. 16, when the Canada Border Services Agency made a case for Mr. Peters to be deported.
A lawyer representing the CBSA at the hearings alleged Mr. Peters was closely associated with the leadership of the Libyan regime before and during the North African country’s internal conflict, providing security for high-ranking members of the Gadhafi regime between 2006 and 2011.
The CBSA also all alleged that Mr. Peters participated in smuggling al-Saadi Gadhafi out of Libya and into Niger in Aug. 2011, and allegedly smuggled other members of the Gadhafi family into Algeria.
The IRB is an independent administrative tribunal which makes decisions on immigration and refugee matters.
It is up to the CBSA to make removal arrangements for Mr. Peters. A spokeswoman for the agency said the CBSA was obliged to remove individuals deemed inadmissible to the country “as soon as practicable,” but would only do so after their avenues to challenge the IRB’s findings were exhausted.
“The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly. Everyone ordered removed from Canada is entitled to due process before the law and all removal orders are subject to various levels of appeals," said Antonella DiGirolamo. "Once due process is complete, persons are expected to abide by our laws and leave Canada, or be removed.“
Mr. Peters, who has lived in Canada for at least 10 years, runs Can/Aust Security and Investigations International Inc. out of Cambridge, Ont.
A former associate of his, Canadian Cynthia Vanier, is facing charges in Mexico for allegedly trying to smuggle al-Saadi Gadhafi into that country – charges she has continually denied.
Mr. Peters provided security services to Ms. Vanier during a fact-finding mission in Libya with Canadian firm SNC Lavalin, which had construction projects in the country.
The two parted ways in September 2011 and he said he only heard later she’d been arrested.
Al-Saadi Gadhafi has been living in Niger, where he has been granted refugee status.