The Canadian Press Published on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009 10:55AM EDT
A fugitive banker who has been fighting extradition to Thailand since 1996 lost a final legal battle Thursday at the Supreme Court of Canada.
The court refused to hear Rakesh Saxena’s appeal of a lower-court decision, clearing the way for him to be sent back to face embezzlement charges. As usual, the justices gave no reasons for their decision.
It’s the end of one of the longest extradition fights in Canadian history.
A federal lawyer said Thai authorities were in Vancouver ready to fly Mr. Saxena back as soon as the court ruled and the paperwork was complete.
“I am aware that the Thai police intend to be here by the time the decision is released and if leave is denied, they will leave as soon as they can,” Deborah Strachan, a lawyer for the federal attorney general acting for the Thai government, said Wednesday.
Mr. Saxena was arrested in Whistler, B.C., in 1996 on a Thai extradition warrant which accuses him of embezzling nearly $88-million from a major bank and almost toppling the country’s economy.
He’s been fighting ever since to stay in Canada, including an unsuccessful attempt in 2006 to get his case before the Supreme Court.
Through the many court proceedings, he has been under house arrest, free under strict conditions, back in custody and freed again.
Along the way, he suffered a stroke and made some of his final court appearances in British Columbia in a wheelchair.
On several occasions he argued that he would be harmed if he returned to Thailand and wouldn’t get a fair trial.
Canadian authorities and successive justice ministers rejected that argument.
In June, the B.C. Court of Appeal rejected his bid to overturn earlier rulings upholding his removal.
The Supreme Court decision effectively upholds that ruling.
There is some urgency about his return to Thailand because the country’s statute of limitations on the charges runs out next July.
“It’s been going on for 13 years and at every step of the way the courts have held that there is sufficient evidence of fraudulent conduct, which is sufficient to send him back to Thailand to trial,” Ms. Strachan said.