Revenge not behind decision to leave pre-teen daughter in Iraq, says Calgary dad

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“No, that’s nonsense,” the accused replied.

Al Aazawi, 40, faces charges of international kidnapping and abducting a child against a parental order in connection with his travels to the Middle East with Zahraa in 2018.

Al Aazawi took Zahraa, then 10, to Egypt in June 2018 for a summer vacation, planning to celebrate her 11th birthday the following month.

But he travelled with the girl to Iraq in late June and she has been there ever since.

Al Aazawi earlier told defence lawyer Balfour Der the girl refused to return to Calgary, as planned, on Sept. 5.

He returned to Canada in April 2019 and was arrested at Pearson International Airport in Toronto, before being brought back to Calgary.

He spent several months behind bars before being released on bail last December.

Much of O’Connor’s questioning of Al Aazawi focused on the fact he was aware he and Mahdi had joint custody of Zahraa.

“You agree Zainab had not relinquished custody . . . meaning she did not give you sole custody of Zahraa when you took her to Iraq, it was 50/50?” O’Connor said.

“No, I had sole custody and she’s the one that told me I’m responsible for everything.”

O’Connor also noted that since being taken to Iraq, Zahraa has been in either the custody of Al Aazawi, or members of his family.

“Have you taken her to see Zainab’s family in Iraq?” the prosecutor asked.

“No,” Al Aazawi said.

His trial continues Thursday.

Twitter: @KMartinCourts

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