Halifax man first to face trial for violating Canada’s international economic sanctions


A Halifax businessman will likely be the first person to face a trial after violating Canada’s regime of economic sanctions in Syria, according to an expert in international law.

Michael Nesbitt, an assistant professor of law at the University of Calgary, said that the trial of Nader Kalai for violating Canada’s Special Economic Measures Act (SEMA) is one that he’ll be monitoring closely.

“This is the most interesting case we’ve ever seen in Canadian sanctions legislation and it hasn’t even started yet,” Nesbitt told Global News in a phone interview.

The sanctions against Syria were established by Canada in 2011 after the country’s president Bashar al-Assad violently cracked down on peaceful protesters.

Kalai, a Syrian national with permanent resident status in Canada, is accused of violating the measures imposed on Syria by making a payment of 15 million Syrian pounds — the equivalent of approximately $140,000 — to a company called Syrialink on Nov. 27, 2013.

If convicted Kalai could face up to five years in prison.

Kalai’s lawyer, Ron Pizzo of the law firm Pink Larkin, said his client intends to go to trial to contest the charges.