OTTAWA — A Montreal man's lawsuit over his detention and alleged torture in Sudan is heading to a Federal Court hearing in September following the abrupt cancellation of settlement talks.
The federal government recently nixed the planned mediation sessions in the case of Abousfian Abdelrazik just before they were to begin, said lawyer Paul Champ, who has fought on behalf of his client for years.
Champ accused the government Tuesday of shelving the prospect of a resolution with Abdelrazik over "political blowback" from a multimillion-dollar settlement in a lawsuit filed by Toronto-born Omar Khadr.
Abdelrazik, 56, came from Africa as a refugee in 1990 and attained Canadian citizenship five years later. He was arrested, but not charged, during a 2003 visit to see his ailing mother in Sudan.
While in Sudanese custody, he was interrogated by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service about suspected extremist links.
Abdelrazik claims he was tortured by Sudanese intelligence officials during two periods of detention, but Canada says it knew nothing of the alleged abuse.
He denies involvement in terrorism and seeks financial compensation and an apology from the federal government for his prolonged ordeal in Sudan.
Champ said Tuesday that he and Abdelrazik had been hopeful the Liberal government would resolve the matter, but eight weeks have now been set aside for a Federal Court hearing to begin Sept. 14.
"It's been a long road to justice and he is looking forward to a trial so he can finally face the Canadian officials who sat behind their little desks in Ottawa and destroyed his life," Champ said.
Scott Bardsley, a spokesman for Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, said the government does not comment on settlement negotiations or ongoing court matters.
Days after his second release from prison, in July 2006, Abdelrazik's name turned up on a United Nations Security Council blacklist that prevented him from flying back to Canada.
He was granted haven in the Canadian consulate in Khartoum, but Canada refused to issue him a travel document to fly home. Amid intense publicity about his case, he returned to Montreal in June 2009.
That same month, the Federal Court concluded CSIS was complicit in Abdelrazik's 2003 detention.
Abdelrazik's name was removed from the UN list in late 2011.
Last year the Liberal government paid a total of $31.25 million to close the book on long-standing lawsuits filed by Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin over the federal role in their torture in Syria.
The government also apologized to Khadr, a former inmate at the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and settled his lawsuit with a payout of $10.5 million.
Champ said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's comments about justice and the sanctity of charter rights after the Khadr settlement were heartening, "but I guess the political blowback was too much and now politics has overruled justice and fairness."
"There is no legal, moral or principled reason to deny Mr Abdelrazik compensation along the same lines as the other cases of Canadians tortured abroad."
In a recent letter, Amnesty International Canada urged Trudeau to begin good-faith negotiations towards "adequate and appropriate compensation."
"It is time for you to become involved and for you to take the principled decision that is so evidently required."
— Follow @JimBronskill on Twitter
Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press
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