Halifax man acquitted on charge of violating Syria trade sanctions

A Nova Scotia court has acquitted a Halifax man on a charge he violated Canada’s trade sanctions against Syria.

Nader Kalai, a Syrian national with permanent residency in Canada, is known to be a close associate of Syrian President .

Kalai was supposed to go on trial this week in Nova Scotia Supreme Court on one charge of violating Canada’s Special Economic Measures Act for allegedly making a payment of 15 million Syrian pounds — about $140,000 Cdn — to a company called Syrialink in November 2013.

Canada is one of several western countries that have imposed trade sanctions against Syria for human-rights violations.

At the opening of the trial earlier this week, federal Crown prosecutor David Schermbrucker told the judge he would be calling no evidence and asked that Kalai be acquitted. Justice John Bodurtha granted the acquittal on the single count.

The Crown’s decision to call no evidence follows an earlier ruling by Bodurtha on the admissibility of certain documents the Crown hoped to use in the trial. They were recovered from a computer in Kalai’s Halifax home. However, the defence argued the Crown had not proven that Kalai could be definitively tied to their contents.

“I find that the documents have been authenticated by the Crown and are admissible as documents in possession but not for the truth of their contents,” Bodurtha wrote in his decision on their admissibility.

He added that the Crown “has not met their onus to have the documents admissible for the truth of their contents.”

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