Nova Scotia

Bassam Al-Rawi released from prison while he appeals sex assault conviction

A former Halifax taxi driver is being released from prison while he appeals his sexual assault conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Former taxi driver was convicted of assaulting a woman in Bedford, N.S., in 2012

Bassam Al-Rawi walks outside the courtroom during a break at Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax in August 2020. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

A former Halifax taxi driver is being released from prison while he appeals his sexual assault conviction to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Bassam Al-Rawi and his lawyer appeared Tuesday in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to ask for his release.

Late last year, a three-member panel of that same court rejected Al-Rawi's appeal of his August 2020 conviction.

Al-Rawi was convicted of assaulting a woman in his apartment in Bedford, N.S., on Dec. 15, 2012. Now he's asking the country's highest court to take another look at the case.

Testimony at Al-Rawi's trial showed he picked up the woman in his taxi in downtown Halifax. She had come into the city the day before and was lost and intoxicated. Her identity is protected by a publication ban.

The Crown was opposed to Al-Rawi's release, but Appeal Court Justice David Farrar ruled that issues raised by the case are not frivolous and worthy of another look.

Can't return to Germany

However, the judge rejected Al-Rawi's request to return to Germany where he had been living with his wife and toddler.

Farrar said public confidence in the justice system would be shaken if Al-Rawi was allowed to leave the country. Instead, Al-Rawi will be allowed to live with a surety in Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa. The surety has agreed to post $50,000 to ensure Al-Rawi complies with his release conditions, while Al-Rawi is pledging $25,000.

Because he was out on conditions while he awaited last year's decision by the Appeal Court, Al-Rawi has only served a couple of months of his two-year sentence.

Al-Rawi had argued that his businesses in Germany were faltering without him and that he also needed to go to Germany to renew his temporary residence permit. Instead, he must surrender his passport and remain under curfew at his friend's house from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., seven days a week.

Al-Rawi is only now seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada, which has yet to decide whether it will hear his case. That process is expected to take months.

MORE TOP STORIES

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Blair Rhodes

Reporter

Blair Rhodes has been a journalist for more than 35 years, the last 27 with CBC. His primary focus is on stories of crime and public safety. He can be reached at blair.rhodes@cbc.ca

now