The Canada Border Services Agency is moving to deport an Australian bodyguard tied to Libya's deposed Gadhafi regime — over allegations he was complicit in war crimes and human smuggling.
The CBSA has placed Cambridge, Ont.-based Gary Peters under travel restrictions that require him to report to authorities regularly while awaiting a deportation hearing.
"War crimes? What the hell! Why hasn't the ICC [International Criminal Court] arrested me?" Peters asked during an interview with CBC News Wednesday.
Peters, 49, who has lived in Canada since 2002 and is married to a Canadian woman, claims he has done nothing wrong, is not a national security risk, and says he has been co-operating fully with the RCMP, CSIS and Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams (INSET).
Watched by police, customs
But he has had a few run-ins with various police agencies in Canada.
In June, Peters was convicted in Cambridge, Ont., of careless storage of a firearm for leaving a weapon sitting on the front seat of his truck while parked at a local Canadian Tire store. He was fined $100 and has been banned from possessing guns for three years.
This month, he said he was pulled over for a "rolling stop" only to have four cruisers surround his vehicle after an officer ran his name through police computers.
He also told CBC News that Ontario Provincial Police are investigating his company CanAust Security & Investigations International Inc. Peters is a licensed security guard, but he didn't pay the fees to license his company to sell security services in Ontario.
Peters had long worked as a personal bodyguard for Saadi Gadhafi, son of former dictator Moammar Gadhafi, even after the UN imposed sanctions in 2011 freezing Gadhafi regime assets and banning all travel by family members. Peters insists he has always been careful not to break any laws, even during his travel to Libya last September during which he claims he was involved in a lethal fire fight with some rebels. He also admits to being part of a convoy that spirited Saadi Gadhafi out of Tripoli to the border of Niger, where Saadi is now reportedly under house arrest.
"I'm scared I'll be deported," Peters said. "I think it's inevitable to be honest with you. I think [CBSA] made their minds up and that it's up to me to prove I didn't do these things. Peters said that poses a challenge "because I didn't do them in the first place."
"That's what's pissing me off."
Peters made headlines last fall after disclosing he served as a bodyguard when Canadian mediator Cyndy Vanier went to Libya in July 2011 on behalf of Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin, which employed executives who had ties to Saadi Gadhafi.
Vanier was arrested in Mexico in November 2011 on the eve of a meeting with an SNC-Lavalin executive. Vanier and three associates are accused of plotting to smuggle Gadhafi and his family into Mexico with the use of fake documents.
Peters has told CBC News repeatedly that he indeed did work with Vanier on a plan to try to move the Gadhafi son out of Libya, but insists the idea was dropped in June of last year when they determined it could not be done legally.
However, CBSA tells CBC News that officers began an investigation into Peters, also in November, and have now referred a report to the Immigration and Refugee Board for a deportation hearing arguing that Peters is now deemed "inadmissible [to Canada] for being complicit in war crimes and people smuggling [organized criminality]."
Peters, who is a permanent resident in Canada, balks at the allegations, and questions why the RCMP has never arrested him.
"If you go to an ordinary court it is up to police and authorities to prove that you did the crime right? The way I'm reading it with CBSA is that they have a very low threshold, and they can say something — and it's up to you to prove that you didn't do it, basically."
CBSA won't divulge the findings of its report on Peters publicly until a full deportation hearing, the date for which has yet to be set.
Peters said he hopes to stay in Canada because he has made a home here and can work as a private investigator.
"I have nothing back in Australia now except my parents who are elderly, my daughters who have their own lives and can come here when they wish," he explained.
"Basically this is my home now. I can provide and do more here than anywhere else I've lived. This is home."
Vanier wants to cross-examine Peters
Vanier, who has been in custody in Mexico since November over allegations she masterminded the proposed smuggling of Gadhafi into Mexico, including the procurement of fake ID and safe houses, is attempting to challenge a statement Peters gave in January to Mexican prosecutors who visited him in Canada.
In a telephone interview last week from prison in Chetumal, Mexico, along the border with Belize, Vanier told CBC News she is furious that Canada is not willing to present Peters for cross-examination, after the RCMP helped prosecutors facilitate Peter's initial statement.
"It is integral to my defence to be able to cross-examine him," said Vanier. "So for Canada to now say I'm sorry we can't produce him because we're afraid he's going to incriminate himself ... it puts us in a terrible position here."
When told of her claim, Peters said: "She's in this predicament she's in not because of me, but because of her doing. She's probably just trying to crawl her way out of jail.
"I've no time for her."
Vanier, meanwhile, is awaiting trial proceedings in Mexico which are scheduled to begin at the end of July.
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