Stateless Ottawa man facing 83 gun charges after OPP raid
'Essentially he is in legal limbo until Canada decides to recognize his status,' lawyer says
An Ottawa man who has been fighting for years to become a Canadian citizen has been charged with 83 gun-related offences after Ontario Provincial Police carried out multiple raids in the National Capital Region this week.
Court filings show Deepan Budlakoti is accused of possessing several high-powered firearms, including semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic handguns, machine guns and several rounds of ammunition.
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The 28-year-old appeared in court Monday following the arrest and was remanded in custody pending his next court appearance, scheduled for Thursday. His criminal lawyer, Natasha Calvinho, told CBC News she is still waiting for disclosure from the Crown and could not comment on the new charges.
The alleged offences took place from June 30 to Nov. 6 of this year, according to court filings. None of the allegations has been tested in court.
OPP to hold news conference
The OPP said in a news release a news conference will be held Wednesday at its Ottawa detachment to announce details of a six-month, multi-jurisdictional investigation. OPP Chief Supt. John Sullivan will speak to the media about the raids, which resulted in the "seizure of high-powered weapons and drugs in the national capital region."
This is the latest run-in with the law for Budlakoti, whose fight for citizenship has been dragging on since 2011 and was ultimately shot down by the Supreme Court of Canada last year.
Budlakoti, the son of two diplomats from the Indian high commission in Ottawa, was ordered removed from Canada after a 2011 investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The agency ordered his removal after he was convicted in 2010 of weapons trafficking, possession of a firearm and drug trafficking. He was sentenced to three years in prison.
The investigation found he was a permanent resident, not a Canadian citizen, and therefore inadmissible to Canada because of the "serious criminality" involved in his offences.
He is still considered to be an inadmissible person in Canada and subject to removal from Canada — with nowhere to be removed to, there being no other country of which he is a citizen.- Yavar Hameed , lawyer
But Budlakoti disputed his parents' employment status at the time of his birth in 1989, arguing they had stopped working for the high commission two months before he was born, and they were not diplomats.
When his sentence was complete, Budlakoti was transferred to CBSA, where he was to be detained pending his removal from Canada. In 2013, India's high commission said it didn't recognize Budlakoti.
He took his citizenship fight to Federal Court, arguing that the government infringed on his charter rights to life, liberty and security of the person. The Federal Court ruled against him in September 2014, and the Federal Court of Appeal upheld the ruling in June 2015.
He has remained a stateless man since the Supreme Court dismissed his case on Jan. 28, 2016.
Budlakoti in 'legal limbo'
After Canada's top court dismissed his case, Budlakoti took his fight to the United Nations Human Rights Committee.
Yavar Hameed, an Ottawa-based human rights lawyer, wrote in an email to CBC Tuesday he is still waiting on that decision from the U.N.
"He is still considered to be an inadmissible person in Canada and subject to removal from Canada — with nowhere to be removed to, there being no other country of which he is a citizen," Hameed said.
"Essentially he is in legal limbo until Canada decides to recognize his status as a stateless person and grant him citizenship."
One of Budlakoti's family members could not be immediately reached on Wednesday.
Over the years, human rights activists have pleaded for the government to grant him citizenship through online campaigns and protests in Ottawa, arguing his citizenship status is a violation of his freedoms.
Budlakoti previously told the Canadian Press in 2015 he made mistakes when he was younger but had been rehabilitated.
"I was a ward of the state when I was 14," he told The Canadian Press in July 2015. "I was going from group home to group home. I made a mistake when I was younger but I paid my debt to society and I'm trying to move on with my life."