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“I was not forced, it was my decision,” she told Der.
“Were you forced to stay in Iraq by your father, or anyone else?” the lawyer asked.
“Nobody forced me to do anything, all of this was my decision.”
“Were you ever held against your will by your father, or anybody else?” Der inquired.
“No,” the teen replied.
“Is it true your father tried to get you to return to Canada … but you refused?” the lawyer continued.
“Yes … I did refuse.”
Often smiling on camera and with a cousin and her step-mother in the room with her, but out of sight, the teen said she is happy where she is.
And she told Der she was aware her continuing refusal to return to Calgary is compounding her father’s legal troubles.
“You understand by coming back to Canada, that would help your dad?” the lawyer asked.
“I do understand that,” she said.
“I don’t really think it is necessary,” she said of the legal proceedings against Al Aazawi.
“My dad didn’t do anything.”
Under questioning from Crown prosecutor Martha O’Connor, Zahraa acknowledged sending text messages to her mother after arriving in Iraq suggesting it was her father’s choice she was staying there and she wanted to come home.
At one point O’Connor asked the teen to look at a photo which was part of the text exchange between herself and Mahdi.
“To be honest I don’t want to look at her face,” she said of the image of her mother, who sat quietly crying in the courtroom during her daughter’s testimony.
“The woman in the picture is Zainab Mahdi.”
Al Aazawi was arrested in Toronto when he returned to Canada alone in April, 2019. He is currently free on bail.
His trial continues next month.
On Twitter: @KMartinCourts