A man who hobnobbed with Stephen Harper on the prime minister's private plane after escaping the fighting in Lebanon was arrested at the Ottawa airport on outstanding fraud charges early yesterday.
Travelling with his wife and four children, Abbas Hachem, 40, was detained by authorities after landing at about 4 a.m.
Officials conducting a screening of the 88 passengers on the plane had been notified he was wanted by Ottawa police for failing to appear in court on six charges of fraud over $5,000, two counts of uttering forged documents, and one count of conspiracy.
After being taken into custody by Canada Border Services agents, Mr. Hachem spent the day in cells at the Ottawa police station and Elgin Street courthouse before the Crown consented to his release after insisting Mr. Hachem and a former neighbour sign a $500 bond. The neighbour also had to promise Mr. Hachem will follow his bail conditions.
Stephane Rondeau, deputy director of communications at the Prime Minister's Office, said RCMP officers in Cyprus fully screened Mr. Hachem prior to the flight and found the outstanding arrest warrant.
However, the man has no history of violence or anything else that would cause concerns, he said.
"The RCMP found he didn't represent a risk to the prime minister or to anyone else on the plane," Mr. Rondeau said, adding the RCMP took the matter to Mr. Harper and his staff for a final decision.
"For humanitarian reasons, the prime minister and his staff decided against separating him from his wife and children, and they travelled back to Canada to safety together," he said.
Now that is a well-played move! A humanitarian act that serves the interests of justice, and also highlights the more egregious problems with these citizens of convenience.
There are probably more evacuees with outstanding criminal charges or civil judgments in Canada outstanding against them who are about to learn that running away from a war zone doesn't get you out of all your troubles.
Source: Ottawa Citizen