Quebecer jailed in Oman being extradited to United Arab Emirates, son says

MONTREAL — A Quebec man who has been jailed on fraud-related charges in the Middle East is being extradited from Oman to the United Arab Emirates, his son said Tuesday.

Alexis Gauthier said his father, Andre, was transfered from an Omani prison early Tuesday to the UAE city of Dubai. Andre is expected to arrive in that country on Wednesday, where he faces charges related to an alleged $30-million fraud, his son said in a phone interview.

Gauthier said his 65-year-old father appeared to be in good spirits following a phone conversation with him.

“He was fine, I think, mentally,” Alexis Gauthier said. “He felt really supported by Canadian citizens and everything, so he was in a good mood.”

Andre Gauthier’s family and lawyers had appealed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to repatriate the man before he could be returned to the United Arab Emirates. They say Andre Gauthier has little chance of a fair trial in that country.

They describe the Quebecer from the Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean region as a whistleblower who alerted Emerati authorities to irregular dealings in Gold AE, a gold-trading company with which he was involved. His family says he was unfairly blamed for the fraud after the real perpetrators left the country.

Andre Gauthier spent about 18 months in jail starting in December 2015 and released, but he was later convicted on fraud-related charges and sentenced to eight years in prison, according to his son.

Gauthier had initially appealed the verdict, but lost faith in the judicial process and tried to make his way back to Canada via Oman, where he was arrested at the behest of Emerati authorities, his son said.

The younger Gauthier said his father will remain behind bars in Dubai but it’s unclear what will happen with the case. “It’s been four years, and since the beginning of the story nothing happens as it should, so it’s hard to tell,” he said.

Gauthier said he’ll continue to lobby Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to press for his father’s release. He believes only high-level political action will bring his dad home.

“Canada is a G7 country that says it defends the values of equality and justice, so I think it’s time they put their words into action,” he said.

Trudeau said Tuesday his government is concerned about Gauthier’s case and would continue to follow it, but did not give details.

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