Canadian accused of assisting Gadhafi regime released from Mexican jail
A Canadian woman accused of attempting to help the adult son of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi escape punishment has been released from a Mexican prison, but that won’t be the end of the sensational fallout from the collapse of the family regime.
CBC News reports Cynthia Vanier has been released from a Mexican prison after successfully appealing charges that she tried to help members of the Gadhafi family escape the country.
Vanier spent 18 months in custody after being accused of masterminding a plan to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi into Mexico. Her release comes after she challenged the validity of evidence that had been gathered against her.
It has been a bizarre and torturous experience for Vanier, no doubt. She was first arrested in 2011 while in Mexico working as a consultant for SNC-Lavalin. Mexican police allege she was actually in the country preparing to smuggle Saadi Gadhafi into Mexico.
[ Related: SNC-Lavalin agrees to 10-year ban from World Bank projects ]
At the time, Gadhafi was a senior commander in his father’s Libyan regime – which was facing an uprising that would eventually topple the government and end in Moammar Gadhafi’s death.
Saadi Gadhafi, known as a playboy and international traveler, escaped to Niger where he has been given asylum.
While Vanier walks from prison, the international community continues to watch the remnants of the Gadhafi clan move around like a shell game, avoiding punishment for their various roles in a decades-long dictatorship.
The National Post reports that Gadhafi’s only daughter has been thrown out of her Algerian safe house after repeatedly setting it on fire. The Times of Oman reports that the Arab country recently offered the Gadhafi family asylum. That report goes on to say that Saadi Gadhafi could be preparing to leave Niger and join his family in Oman.
The Gadhafi family built many nests in many countries during their reign, and many of them have since been rooted out and reclaimed by the new Libyan government. Those nests included a lakefront condo in Toronto and a massive mansion in Britain.
A former bodyguard of Saadi Gadhafi was also deported from Canada earlier this year, according to the National Post.
While all those connections to Canada are enough to give pause, it was the allegations against Vanier that seemed to be the most concerning. Her alleged dealings with the family read like an spy pulp novel – a consultant for a Canadian engineering firm scurrying about doing dark favours for a faraway despotic regime.
[ More Brew: Imam’s gay comments slammed after talk at Edmonton school ]
Cynthia Vanier. Radio Canada photoVanier and an SNC-Lavalin co-worker were accused of being agents working on behalf of the regime. The company claimed earlier this year that Vanier was connected to a rogue executive who has since retired from the company. Vanier has maintained the engineering company owns her money from the work she did for them in Libya. The company says they don’t owe her anything.
Evidence gathered against Vanier in the now-dismissed smuggling accusations surrounded an email chain between herself and now-resigned SNC-Lavalin controller Stephane Roy that included a scanned copy of Gadhafi’s passport, directions to obtain better photographs and a request for money.
CBC News also reports the company remains embroiled in a scandal surrounding improper payments made to secure construction deals in various countries, including Libya. SNC-Lavalin recently settled with the World Bank and is banned on bidding on international contracts through the group for a decade.
Vanier has reportedly been released from prison and is working with immigration officials and a representative of the Canadian consulate to leave Mexico. Her time in the cross hairs is over. But plenty of targets remain.