Arrested for domestic assault amid terrorism investigation, Ottawa man acquitted in court.
By Matthew Pearson June 17, 2011 1
Arrested for domestic assault amid terrorism investigation, Awso Peshdary was acquitted in court Friday.
Photograph by: PAT McGRATH, THE OTTAWA CITIZEN
OTTAWA — A man arrested last summer as part of a sweeping, RCMP-led terrorism investigation and later charged with assaulting and threatening to kill his young wife was acquitted Friday.
Awso Peshdary was facing two counts each of assault and uttering threats in connection with two separate incidents last year.
Ottawa police based the charges on evidence gathered by microphones planted in his house as part of a RCMP terrorism investigation dubbed Project Samosa.
Two Ottawa men and a London, Ont. doctor were arrested and charged with terrorism-related offences, but Peshdary was never fingered in the alleged terrorism plot.
“No link has ever been demonstrated,” his lawyer Richard Morris said outside of court Friday.
Peshdary’s wife — who can’t be named due to a publication ban — testified Friday that she could not remember either of the alleged incidents.
The more serious of the two supposedly occurred Aug. 10, 2010, when Peshdary was said to have pushed his wife in the throat with his arm, causing her to feel choked as he tried to move her away from him.
He also is said to have pushed her in April 2010, and both times threatened her.
“If my husband did hit me, I would remember,” she said.
The woman told the court she was not living at the couple’s home at the time of the alleged April incident because she had just given birth the couple’s first child a few weeks earlier and was staying with her mother for 40 days, as is custom in the Somali culture.
With no other witnesses called and no further evidence entered, Ontario Court Justice Gilles Renaud dismissed the charges and told Peshdary he was free to go. “There’s definitely no evidence to suggest wrongdoing … all allegations are dismissed,” the judge said.
Assistant Crown attorney Julie Scott said simply: “On the evidence that was presented, he was acquitted.”
In earlier court proceedings, Morris had been prepared to question two RCMP officers in an effort to get more information about the surveillance.
The lawyer also questioned how real police believed the danger faced by Peshdary’s wife was, given that no one stepped in at the time the alleged incidents.
Peshdary and his wife left the courthouse quickly and headed home to the same residence for the first time since the man’s arrest, Morris said.
When he was released on bail in September, Peshdary was ordered to have no communication with his wife or infant daughter unless he obtained a court order. He was also told to stay away from four members of his wife’s family, including her mother, and not attend within 500 metres of his wife’s places of employment, residence and worship.
The Crown later consented to a variation of the condition to allow some limited contact, but Morris said it’s still been a difficult 10 months for the young family.
Morris said Peshdary and his family are glad it’s over.
“He’s relieved,” the lawyer said.
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