A 28-year old Saudi man may have avoided justice on charges of sexual assault, assault, forcible confinement, uttering threats, criminal harassment, dangerous driving and assault with a weapon, while living in Canada between 2016 and 2017.
Rather than facing trial in Canada, Mohammed Zuraibi Al-Zoabi failed to show up to a Nova Scotia court on January 14. He was arrested, but let go after posting bail.
As a condition of his bail, Al-Zoabi’s passport was seized and he was required to post $37,500 — paid in cash — which was forfeited on January 14 when he did not show up to court.
The payment was made by the Saudi Arabian embassy, according to the Crown.
The only way he could have left Canada is if the Saudi embassy had given him new diplomatic paperwork to help facilitate his escape from Canada. His former lawyer confirmed that he fled the country, and the Crown admitted are unsure about his current whereabouts.
Al-Zoabi’s case is very similar to that of another Saudi national who also avoided the Canadian justice system for crimes allegedly committed in Nova Scotia.
In 2007, Saudi national Taher Ali Al-Saba failed to show up to court in Halifax where he faced two counts of sexual assault.
At the time, the Crown attorney confirmed that Al-Saba had returned to Saudi Arabia with the help of the Saudi embassy.
Stories like these are not isolated to Canada.
In 2016, Abdulrahman Sameer Noorah, a student living in Portland, Oregon, is alleged to have mowed down a 15-year-old girl in his gold Lexus before driving away. She died on the spot.
His $100,000 bail was paid in full by the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles. Nine days before his trial, he disappeared.
A year later, Saudi officials admitted that he had escaped back to the Saudi Kingdom.
The Oregonian Newspaper reported that several other Saudi students have similarly fled to Saudi Arabia to avoid facing justice for the crimes they are alleged to have committed in North America.
This includes Abdulaziz Al-Duways, who was accused of raping a classmate in 2014.
Like the others, he disappeared shortly after the Saudi embassy paid his bail.
Among those mentioned by the Oregonian, there were two alleged rapists, two accused of hit-and-runs and one accused of being in possession of child pornography.
All five were university or college students, and four had their bail posted by the Saudi Embassy.
The trend is clear — young Saudi men are accused of committing heinous crimes, the Saudi government pays their bail and then the men disappear before they can be tried by a Canadian or American court.
This behaviour suggests that Saudi Arabia has a policy of helping its citizens escape responsibility for their actions abroad, regardless of how egregious the crime.