Calgary girl at centre of kidnapping allegations could be returned to Canada by next month

Calgary girl at centre of kidnapping allegations could be returned to Canada by next month

There is hope an 11-year-old Calgary girl who is the alleged victim of an international kidnapping at the hands of her father could be returned from Iraq within a few weeks. 

On Wednesday, a judge heard that some steps have been taken to secure the return of Zahraa Al Aazawi.

Ali Al Aazawi, 38, is charged with international kidnapping and parental abduction. He is also facing contempt proceedings in connection with his alleged breach of the family court order that dictated the girl be returned to her mother in September 2018 following a trip with her father.

If Al Aazawi is found in contempt, he can be kept in custody until the child is returned to Canada.

As part of the contempt hearing, Al Aazawi was in court Wednesday to give an update to Justice Suzanne Bensler regarding seven steps he was ordered to take by another judge last month.

Girl with stepmom

So far, Al Aazawi has disclosed the location of his passport and his daughter’s passport. He has also told authorities his daughter is living with his wife and his sister in Baghdad.

But Erika Gordon, who represents Zahraa’s mother, expressed concern to Bensler that she and Global Affairs Canada still did not know the exact location of the child.

“We’ve given a district,” said Al Aazawi’s lawyer, George Roszler, who said his client has provided the names of his wife and sister to authorities. “In Baghdad they don’t have street names or numbers on homes.”

Al Aazawi must still sign a travel consent document as directed by Global Affairs Canada and a plane ticket needs to be purchased. 

Bensler ordered Al Aazawi to sign the consent letter. The judge also granted an order that Al Aazawi’s Canadian passport, which is being held at the Calgary Remand Centre, be surrendered to police. 

‘We’d like to get him out’

Roszler said Al Aazawi was eager to get his daughter back to Canada so that he can get out of jail.

“We’d like this to happen sooner than later,” said Roszler, pointing out his client has been in custody since he was arrested at the Toronto airport in April. 

“We’d like to get him out.”

It also remains unclear who will accompany Zahraa back to Calgary — one of Al Aazawi’s family members could fly back with the girl or Global Affairs could provide a travel companion. 

Domestic abuse allegations

Al Aazawi is accused of taking Zahraa to Egypt in June 2018 and then to Iraq, where he left her with family.

He and Zanaib Mahdi had an agreement that following a three-month trip overseas, Zahraa was to be returned to her mother in September.

It has been a year since Mahdi has seen her daughter. She was at court on Wednesday in tears. 

In 2012, Mahdi sought an emergency protection order, alleging her husband physically and psychologically abused her. 

Mahdi told police at the time that Al Aazawi had broken her nose and finger, burned her shoulder and had once given her a black eye.

Al Aazawi’s mother lived with the couple at the time and had also allegedly attacked Mahdi. The mother-in-law, whom Mahdi said she did not trust, has since returned to Iraq.

In an affidavit filed at the Calgary courthouse, Al Aazawi denied the abuse.

Meghan Grant · CBC News

June 19, 2019 / by / in