NEWS

Ottawa man in Bahrain in hiding after losing appeal

01/26/2012 08:32 EST | Updated 03/27/2012 05:12 EDT

A Canadian who alleges he was tortured in a Bahrain prison has gone into hiding after losing an appeal of his conviction on breaking illegal assembly laws, according to Amnesty International Canada.

Naser al-Raas, 29, was the only one of 13 defendants convicted on Oct. 25 for charges of illegal assembly, rioting and incitement, and was sentenced to five years in prison. He lost his appeal Tuesday.

Al-Raas spoke to CBC News from an unknown location in Bahrain on Thursday morning.

"I saw how bad they tortured people, and even I witnessed an innocent man — he was tortured until he passed away and he was next to me," al-Raas told the CBC's Ashley Burke via Skype.

"I think if I will be in custody again, they will get their revenge."

Critical of Canadian government

Al-Raas had been living and working in Kuwait but went to Bahrain in April to visit his sisters and fiancée. Then he was accused of joining ongoing demonstrations.

He said he was arrested when he was about to board a plane to return to Kuwait at the Bahrain International Airport. His passport was confiscated and he was taken to Al Qala prison.

Al-Raas, a Kuwait-born Canadian citizen and former Ottawa resident, fears he will die in custody if he continues to serve the five-year sentence.

Al-Raas has claimed he was tortured for a month last year for a similar offence. He still wants all charges dropped.

He said he will be deprived of medication he needs for a heart and lung condition. Last fall, he criticized the Canadian government for observing his trial but not doing enough to help him.

The authorities have also confiscated al-Raas's passport and other identification.

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