Saudi accused of sexual assault disappears from Canada after embassy posts bail
Canadian authorities are reportedly searching for Mohammed Zuraibi al-Zoabi, a Saudi citizen and student at Cape Breton University accused of sexual assault after he failed to show up for a court hearing.
Mohammed faces charges of sexual assault, uttering threats, assault, forcible confinement, criminal harassment, dangerous driving and assault with a weapon (a vehicle) in separate trials related to two incidents that occurred in between 2016 and 2017.
According to local police who spoke with the Chronicle Herald, al-Zoabi’s passport was given as collateral when the 28-year-old student posted his $37,500 bail in cash, provided by the Saudi Arabian embassy.
They have done this before.”
“It should be impossible (for him to leave the country or enter without a passport) unless Saudi Arabia furnished him with a Saudi travel document,” Lee Cohen, a Halifax-based immigration lawyer, told the Chronicle Herald
Asked by the paper whether he was still in Canada, al-Zoabi said “probably not … I can’t tell you that”, adding that he wouldn’t come back for the trial because he feared they might be “unfair”.
Interestingly enough, the case does not end here as between March 2012 and April 2016, al-Zoabi also racked up numerous infractions ranging from speeding, driving without a valid license, driving uninsured, unregistered and uninspected vehicles.
Those unpaid fees currently amount to $68,967.
The Saudi Arabian embassy did not respond to a Chronicle Herald request for comment on al-Zoabi.
Canada – Saudi relations will deteriorate
The extreme likelihood that the Saudi embassy has helped an individual wanted for sexual assault will further destabilize the already contentious relationship between Saudi Arabia and Canada.
The Saudi state has already pulled investment, students, and limited imports from Canada as a result of the nations demands for the return of Raif Badawi.
As well, recently, Canada agreed to grant asylum to Rahaf Alqunun, a Saudi teenager fleeing abuse from her family.
The actual secret removal of a wanted criminal will not only quickly anger the traditionally conservative base which opposes the nation’s actions, but also will likely force Justin Trudeau to respond, or risk having the last shred of credibility when it comes to defending victims all but disappear.
Perhaps most importantly though, this action shows that Riyadh is still a belligerent nation, attempting to bypass foreign laws and execute their laws even in foreign lands, as less than a year has passed since the international outcry from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom’s consulate in Istanbul.
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