Accused in Amanda Lindhout kidnapping faces trial nine years after events

More than nine years after journalist Amanda Lindhout was taken hostage in Somalia, a man will face trial Monday in an Ottawa courtroom.

Three weeks have been set aside for the Ontario Superior Court trial of Ali Omar Ader, to be heard without a jury.

Lindhout and photographer Nigel Brennan were grabbed by masked gunmen near strife-ridden Mogadishu in August 2008. Both were released on Nov. 25, 2009.

Ader, a 40-year-old Somalian national, faces a criminal charge of hostage-taking for his alleged role as a negotiator.

He was arrested by the RCMP in Ottawa in June 2015. It emerged during pre-trial motions last spring that the Mounties had lured Ader to Canada through an elaborate scheme to sign a purported book-publishing deal.

The Crown opted for a direct indictment in the case, meaning there was no preliminary inquiry.

In general, there are many reasons why a direct indictment may be preferable, including cases in which the age, health or other circumstances of witnesses would make it difficult for them to testify more than once.

Behind the scenes, a confidential side proceeding has played out in the Federal Court of Canada over prosecution service concerns about sensitive information that, if disclosed during the trial, could harm international relations, security or defence.

Trevor Brown, an Ottawa lawyer representing Ader, did not respond to requests for comment.

Lindhout, 36, has published a best-selling memoir of her 460 days as a prisoner in which she discusses being sexually assaulted in captivity.

In 2009, the native of Red Deer, Alta., established The Global Enrichment Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering leadership in Somalia through educational and community-based programs.

In recent years she has also written articles and given speeches focusing on forgiveness, compassion, social responsibility and determination.

Details of the lengthy police investigation — which involved undercover operations, surveillance and wiretaps — will emerge in court, RCMP Asst. Commissioner James Malizia said after Ader was charged.

“This investigation posed a number of significant challenges as it was carried out in an extremely high-risk environment in a country plagued with political instability.”

The RCMP’s mandate extends beyond Canada’s borders, where the extra-territorial provisions of the Criminal Code come into effect. The Mounties have acknowledged the help of the Canada Border Services Agency, Foreign Affairs and the Australian Federal Police.

Malizia has also lauded Lindhout, Brennan and their families for their courage and for providing witness statements that assisted the police investigation.

“The RCMP fully understands that criminal investigations and the ensuing prosecutions are difficult,” he said. “Victims and witnesses must relive events that they should not have had to endure in the first place.”

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