Ottawa

Group worries execution close for Canadian held in Ethiopian jail

A community group in Ottawa is worried that time is running out for a Canadian man who has been held in an Ethiopian jail for 18 months.

A community group in Ottawa is worried that time is running out for a Canadian man who has been held an Ethiopian jail for 18 months.

Group members are worried that former Toronto resident, Bashir Makhtal, 36, might soon face execution.

Makhtal was arrested in Kenya almost two years ago when he fled there to escape the civil war in Somalia.

He was later sent back to Somalia, and from there sent to an Ethiopian prison.

There is now word from his family that Ethiopian officials are trying to force him to confess to acts of terrorism.

Such a confession could result in the death penalty, said Fowsia Abdulkadir, a member of the group working to help Makhtal.

Group members fear he could be executed as early as next week.

"This is a Canadian citizen who has been held illegally. He has been rendered from Kenya illegally and has not seen … any court process," Abdulkadir said.

"Makhtal has been in custody incommunicado — he wasn't allowed access for family or for Canadian officials or a lawyer. He has not been allowed to communicate with anybody.

"He pretty much could have been tortured. We don't know," Abdulkadir said.

Makhtal's story has galvanized the Somali community across Canada.

An ethnic Somali, Makhtal is an Ethiopian-born Canadian citizen who was trying to start a business in Somalia when Ethiopia invaded in 2006.

His family said he wants to meet with his lawyer and the Canadian High Commission.

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