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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 00:43 GMT 01:43 UK
Canada 'sorry' over deportation
By Lee Carter
BBC News, Toronto

Maher Arar
Maher Arar claims he was tortured in Syria
The head of Canada's national police force has publicly apologised to a man deported to Syria after being falsely accused of terrorism.

Maher Arar was deported by US customs agents to Syria after Canadian police labelled him an Islamic extremist.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli said his force had made major mistakes.

A public inquiry found Mr Arar had been caught up in a hunt for terror suspects after the 2001 attacks on the US.

Mr Zaccardelli says he has no intention of resigning over the affair despite calls for him to do so.

He said: "I wish to take this opportunity to express publicly to you and to your wife and to your children how truly sorry I am for whatever part the actions of the RCMP may have contributed to the terrible injustices that you experienced and the pain that you and your family endured."

False information

He also said he fully accepted the 23 recommendations made by the report of a public inquiry into the Arar case.

Published last week, this heavily criticised the police force for spreading misleading and false information about the Syrian-born Canadian.

The inquiry said claims linking Mr Arar to al-Qaeda probably contributed to his deportation by US authorities to Syria in 2002.

In Damascus, he was imprisoned for a year and tortured before Canadian officials finally secured his release.

In his appearance before a parliamentary committee, Mr Zaccardelli said his officials tried to correct some of that information before Mr Arar was deported.

Washington has said little about the Arar case.

Canada's public safety minister said he has brought it again to the attention of the US homeland security chief, Michael Chertoff.


SEE ALSO
UK airspace 'used for rendition'
31 Mar 06 |  UK Politics
Canadian sues US over deportation
23 Jan 04 |  Americas
Canada condemns US deportation
06 Nov 03 |  Americas
Deported Canadian returns home
07 Oct 03 |  Americas
Country profile: Syria
15 Sep 03 |  Country profiles

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