After nearly a year and a half behind bars, a Canadian-Libyan businessman is scheduled to go to trial on Monday in Abu Dhabi, in a case that has been scrutinized by a United Nations human-rights panel because of allegations that he was arbitrarily detained and tortured.
Salim Alaradi, a 48-year-old former Vancouver resident, has pleaded not guilty to three terror-related charges.
His lawyer says the prosecution’s case is based solely on confessions extracted under duress.
Mr. Alaradi will be tried in first instance in the highest judicial echelon of the United Arab Emirates, the State Security Chamber of the Federal Supreme Court, which raises concerns that there will be limited public access and the verdict can’t be appealed.
The trial begins on the same day the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention is expected to release its opinion on the case of Mr. Alaradi and four other men.
They were among 10 businessmen of Libyan ancestry taken into custody by plainclothes security officers around August and September, 2014.
The arrests occurred days after the UAE launched air strikes against Islamist militias in western Libya.
In a 13-page report, the UN panel concluded that it had heard reliable information that the men had been arrested without warrants and were regularly beaten, kept in stress positions, water-boarded and deprived of sleep.
Mr. Alaradi and the others “were victims by UAE of serious violations of the international norms relating to the rights for a fair trial,” the Working Group opinion paper says.
Emirati officials told the UN panel that Mr. Alaradi and two other detainees, Kamal and Mohamed Eldarat, were charged with financing, supplying and co-operating with terrorist organizations.
“The state did not profit from the opportunity to present sufficient evidence to sustain its views,” the UN report noted.
Mr. Alaradi’s Canadian lawyer, Paul Champ, said his client first heard the charges against him last month.
During a brief arraignment on Jan. 18, Mr. Alaradi was told he was charged with supporting two Libyan groups, the February 17 Brigades and the Libyan Dawn, during the 2011 conflict that toppled the regime of Moammar Gadhafi.
Mr. Champ said his client denies the allegations.
“The only evidence that they are relying on are the confessions.
Given the information about the torture, this kind of evidence wouldn’t be admissible in any court in the world,” Mr. Champ said in an interview.
The Canadian ambassador and a local lawyer were present at the arraignment at the Abu Dhabi Federal Supreme Court but Mr. Champ was barred from the chamber.
Monday’s trial is also expected to unfold with limited public access.
Only a Canadian consular officer, local lawyers and close family will be allowed to attend.
A former Vancouver resident, Mr. Alaradi was running an appliances business in Dubai.
After his arrest, his wife and five children moved in with relatives in Windsor, Ont.
His brother, Mohamed Elaradi, and another Canadian national and friend of Mr. Alaradi, Refat Hadagha, were also among those arrested and were released without charge in December, 2014, and deported to Turkey.
In an interview in the fall with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Hadagha said he was questioned about Libyan political groups and tortured in an attempt to coerce him into becoming an informant for them.
He also said he recognized Mr. Alaradi’s voice when he heard other detainees screaming.
Mohamed Elaradi has told Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch that he suffered systematic torture at the hand of interrogators working shifts as they questioned him about being a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.Report Typo/Error