Court forces release of documents in refugee’s lawsuit
From The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — Federal lawyers have handed more than 850 new documents to defence counsel in the case of Benamar Benatta, a refugee who is suing the Canadian government for shipping him to the United States on terror suspicions one day after the 9-11 attacks. The disclosure of hundreds of new pages spanning several years comes despite previous federal assurances there were no further records relevant to the security case.
It’s the latest hurdle in Benatta’s fight to be compensated for spending almost five years in U.S. prisons where he was held in grim conditions and allegedly beaten by guards.
Nicole Chrolavicius, Benatta’s lawyer, said it’s “very frustrating” to represent a client without being sure the other side has revealed all relevant information.
“There’s an obligation on the government to play fairly and to make sure that every step it takes in litigation is in accordance with the rules of the court.”
Benatta defected from the Algerian military while on training in the United States. In early September 2001, he made his way to the Canadian border at Fort Erie, Ont., where he told officials he intended to claim refugee status.
Canadian authorities drove him over the border one day after the Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington, handing him to U.S. authorities for investigation.
Benatta was cleared of involvement in terrorism by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation two months later. However, he was held in U.S. prisons for close to five years.
Benatta was returned to Canada in 2006 and obtained refugee status the following year. Meantime, he took the federal government to court, alleging breaches of the Charter of Rights and international law.
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