Canada let him stay, now he's charged with murder (external - login to view)
Canada let him stay, now he's charged with murder
By Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun, July 23, 2009
A week before Babak Najafi Chaghabouri allegedly kidnapped and killed Vancouver resident Ronak Wagad, the Immigration and Refugee Board gave him one last chance to stay in Canada despite a series of convictions.
Chaghabouri convinced IRB member Renee Miller last Feb. 16 that he was turning his life around even though he had been ordered out of Canada in 2008 because of serious criminality.
On Feb. 23, Wagad disappeared. The remains of the 31-year-old were found near Chilliwack July 8.
This week, Chaghabouri, 27, of North Vancouver, and Charles Anthony Leslie, 31, of Surrey, were charged with Wagad's first-degree murder, abduction and forcible confinement.
Police said the victim and the accused killers were all involved in the mid-level drug trade.
There was no mention of drugs or gangs in Miller's ruling reversing Chaghabouri's deportation order, a copy of which was obtained by The Vancouver Sun.
She said Chaghabouri had demonstrated he deserved another chance even though he had a string of convictions between 2003 and 2007 for possession of a weapon, assault and forcible confinement, uttering threats and aggravated assault.
"Ultimately I was convinced that the appellant's prospects for rehabilitation are good," Miller said.
She cited a violence prevention course done by Chaghabouri as proof of his commitment to change.
"That course did not appear to have been completely successful because the appellant was involved in a subsequent violent offence while in custody and was convicted of that offence," Miller said. "However, he did provide evidence that he has completed two other preventative courses. Although I do not have the corroborative evidence, I accept his evidence on that point."
She said he seemed to be in a "stable relationship" and had obeyed all his probation conditions.
"He told me that part of the efforts that he has made with regard to his rehabilitation is to avoid contact with the Persian community," Miller said. "I take the view that the appellant has demonstrated that he has made efforts towards rehabilitation and that there is more than a mere possibility that there is rehabilitation in his future, although clearly it is not complete."
Miller also said that Chaghabouri had not relied on welfare, which weighed in his favour. Nor did he explain how he earned a living.
"Although his evidence of employment and ability to support himself was minimal, there was no evidence of any reliance on social assistance. However, it is hard to see how he could have supported himself on $3,500 per year," she said.
And Miller said that if Chaghabouri were to be deported to his native Iran, he could be in danger.
"There was evidence before me that there is a serious risk to the appellant if he were removed to that country, given his past political involvement in Iran and his current involvement in an organization which advocates for the separation of the Kurdish people from the government of Iran," she said.
The murder charge is not the only new allegation Chaghabouri has faced since having his deportation order overturned. He was also convicted in two other cases, including an April 27 incident in which he carried a knife and an imitation firearm.
The weapons charge led the public safety minister back to the IRB in June to get the deportation reinstated.
Chaghabouri was ordered deported a second time June 29, just nine days before Wagad's body was found and three weeks before the murder charge was laid.
Chaghabouri appeared in Vancouver Provincial Court Tuesday in connection with Wagad's slaying.
He came to Canada in 2001 at the age of 19 and got refugee status in November of that year.
His first run-ins with the law began two years later.
At one point he fled to Ontario to evade prosecution, Miller heard.
firstname.lastname@example.org (external - login to view)
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun