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Karlheinz Schreiber testifies (Sean Kilpatrick)
Karlheinz Schreiber testifies (Sean Kilpatrick)

Schreiber extradited to Germany Add to ...

Karlheinz Schreiber was whisked onto an overnight flight by RCMP officers Sunday night after an Ontario Superior Court Judge dismissed his last-gasp court challenge to delay his extradition to Germany.

At about 7:45 p.m., about three hours after the 75-year-old lobbyist turned himself in at a Toronto area jail, he called his wife from a cellphone belonging to one of the Mounties.

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"He couldn't speak long. He only said to me he is on the plane and I should be not worried," his wife, Barbel Schreiber, said Sunday night.

The red-eye flight back to his native country came only a few hours after he lost an emergency application for a court injunction Sunday to block his extradition.

The weekend hearing in the near-empty Toronto courthouse was negotiated by Mr. Schreiber's legal team after the federal justice department told the German-Canadian at 5 p.m. on Friday that he had 48 hours to surrender to the authorities.

At the emergency hearing, Mr. Schreiber's lawyer Edward Greenspan accused the federal government of using underhanded tactics - exploiting the holiday weekend to ensure that no courts would be open to accept another one of Mr. Schreiber's frequent court challenges before he was on the tarmac.

Madame Justice Barbara Conway, however, sided with the federal government, ruling that Mr. Schreiber has not met the basic tests that are required for such an injunction.

"Mr. Schreiber has travelled a long road in fighting his extradition to Germany. He is now at the end of that road," Judge Conway said Sunday.

After the hearing, Mr. Greenspan said he was confident that Mr. Schreiber had bought himself a little more time with one final move. When Mr. Schreiber walked into the Toronto West Detention Centre - just a few blocks from Pearson airport - the first thing he did was serve the director of the jail with an application for a judicial review of the Justice Minister's latest decision to not overturn his extradition, Mr. Greenspan said. Under a provision of the Criminal Appeal Rules, inmates can serve jail officials with applications, Mr. Greenspan said.

"It acts as a stay before he can be extradited," Mr. Greenspan said, a few hours before his client was shepherded onto the airplane. Playing on Judge Conway's road metaphor, the veteran criminal defence lawyer added: "He's at the end of the paved road. Now he's on the dirt road."

Mr. Schreiber was somewhat defiant when he spoke briefly with reporters as he approached the jail Sunday afternoon. "I don't think it's my last chance," he said of the judge's decision.

It's been almost a decade since Mr. Schreiber was arrested at a Toronto hotel at the request of Germany, where he ignited a scandal that ruined political careers and sent others to jail. The professional middleman, who has brokered deals for tanks, helicopters and airplanes around the world - Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Canada - dominated headlines and newscasts in the German media in the 1990s when it was revealed that he made payments, sometimes in cash, to high-profile German political figures. Former German junior defence minister, Ludwig-Holger Pfahls, fled the country over payments he accepted from Mr. Schreiber, but was arrested in Paris and later convicted. When it emerged that Mr. Schreiber handed a briefcase containing more than one million deutschmarks to the treasurer of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl's party, it exposed secret slush funds designated for the ruling Christian Democratic Union.

The last time Mr. Schreiber was behind the brick walls of the Toronto area jail, he resurrected one of the most complex scandals in recent Canadian political history - the Airbus affair - and extended his stay in his adopted country.

Shortly after he surrendered to the jail in 2007, he filed an affidavit in court that detailed the cash payments he made to former prime minister Brian Mulroney as well as a little-known hotel meeting between the two men in Zurich in 1998.

The day after he filed the affidavit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he was assigning an independent, investigator to review the allegations. That review led to the recently wrapped up Oliphant inquiry into the cash that Mr. Schreiber gave to Mr. Mulroney, but not the deal that earned Mr. Schreiber most of his riches - the 1988 purchase of $1.8-billion in Airbus planes by then-Crown corporation Air Canada.

During his brief, rambling interview outside the courthouse, Mr. Schreiber complained about the inquiry's exclusion of anything related to the Airbus sale. "The elephant is still in the room," he said, adding that the Oliphant inquiry looked at only "a small piece."

Mr. Justice Jeffrey Oliphant, who chaired the inquiry, has until Dec. 31 to issue his report.

Standing outside Toronto's main criminal courthouse after the judge issued her verdict, Mr. Greenspan reflected on his long ride with Mr. Schreiber.

He looked back at the courthouse, and explained that it was at 361 University Avenue where he first met the boisterous and aggressive deal maker at his first bail hearing.

"Politicians who spent time with him over the years are proof positive that he was not a difficult person to be with. He was entertaining, funny, intelligent," the defence lawyer said.

"Whatever else there was that went on between him and some of the politicians, the fact of the matter is that he had access to the corridors of power that I don't have."

The justice department painted a much different picture in its submission in court, however, underscoring Mr. Schreiber's manipulation of the court to stay in Canada.

Mr. Kramer said the German-Canadian has made 11 submissions to the minister of justice, five applications for judicial review at the Ontario Court of Appeal, and sought leave to the Supreme Court on four occasions - all of which have been denied but had the effect of extending his stay.

"If Mr. Schreiber has lacked anything in his extradition, it is not access to procedural fairness," Mr. Kramer said.

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