Tripoli, 22 January:
The Australian soldier and now Canadian resident, who helped smuggle Saadi Qaddafi to Niger in the last days of the old regime, is facing deportation from Canada, on the grounds that he was complicit in war crimes while in Libya.
Gary Peters has denied any such involvement to an Immigration and Refugee Board tribunal in Toronto. The National Post reported that the Canadian Border Services Agency argued to the tribunal that Peters had provided “invaluable assistance” to the regime, through the “vital role” he performed as Saadi’s bodyguard, at a time when Qaddafi’s son was a special forces commander trying to crush the revolution.
While Peters protests that he had only helped Saadi escape from Libya because his life was in danger, Kristen Smyth of the CBSA maintained to the tribunal that the Australian had a business relationship with the Qaddafi family. He had also worked on close protection for both Saif Al-Islam and Mutassim Qaddafi. Moreover at one time, he had acted as a bodyguard to Riyadh Ben Aissa, a former vice-president of Canadian engineering and construction firm SNC-Lavalin, who is now being held in Switzerland on charges of money laundering and corruption.
Smyth told the tribunal that Peters had made six visits to Libya 2011. She maintained that on one visit he had been paid $20,000 for a fortnight’s work and $25,000 for a later engagement. “Certainly, I think that his involvement in smuggling Saadi to Niger should be considered a for-profit exercise” The National Post reported her as telling the tribunal.
Peters has not been charged with any crime. His deportation is being sought on the principal grounds that he committed a transnational crime, in helping Saadi flee to Niger. The tribunal is expected to produce its finding at some point in the next ten days. [/restrict]