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The Immigration and Refugee Board says it will investigate a senior member accused several times of napping during hearings with asylum seekers.

"We are taking steps to review this matter," Jacques Ayotte, spokesman for the board, said yesterday.

"If this happened, we will take the appropriate measures," Mr. Ayotte said.

The Globe and Mail reported this week that Najib Tahiri -- who found asylum in Canada after fleeing Afghanistan in the early 1980s -- has been accused of falling asleep during at least three refugee hearings.

The allegations are detailed in three Federal Court cases over the past two years.

In the cases, asylum seekers appealed Mr. Tahiri's rulings rejecting their claims.

The claimants alleged that they didn't get fair hearings because Mr. Tahiri dozed off as they described how they would be killed or hurt if forced to return to their Eastern European homelands.

To back up these allegations, Federal Court judges were shown transcripts that indicate Mr. Tahiri sometimes would be silent for hours during hearings.

In separate rulings, the judges said the transcripts aren't enough to prove that Mr. Tahiri was sleeping.

But taken as a group, the allegations and transcripts appear to indicate Mr. Tahiri has a problem staying awake.

Mr. Tahiri's alleged dozing problem dates back several years.

Mr. Ayotte could not say whether there have been previous investigations.

The spokesman said that no member had been fired from the board, though some members have been suspended.

Members of the Immigration and Refugee Board are appointed by the federal cabinet and receive at least $97,000 a year.

The board was founded in 1989.

Mr. Tahiri has been a member since 1994.

Prior to that, he worked as a mechanical engineer.

Long before the days of the Taliban and the war against terrorism in Afghanistan, he was involved in heightening Canadians' awareness of the plight of Afghans.

In 1985, Mr. Tahiri spoke to The Globe and Mail.

Conflict-weary Afghans were complaining of being refused interviews by Canadian consular officials in Central Asia.

"I tried many times to go to the Canadian [high commission]in Islamabad, but I was turned away by the guards at the gate," Mr. Tahiri said.

He added: "For whatever reason, and we don't know why, Afghan refugees have not benefited from Canada's generous refugee programs."

Mr. Tahiri was not available for comment yesterday.

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