TORONTO — A prominent Canadian aid worker convicted of sexually assaulting two children in Nepal is set to argue he was the victim of a police conspiracy and unfair trial.
In legal materials ahead of his appeal, expected to be heard Jan. 7, Peter Dalglish alleges a host of problems with the investigation and court process he says led to his wrongful conviction and nine-year prison term.
“A conspiracy was created on the backs of youths who were enticed to lie and damage the reputation of an innocent man, who has spent his life helping those in need, particularly children and youths,” Dalglish’s lawyers argue in their appeal brief. “In doing so, they have brought the rule of law and the justice system of Nepal into disrepute.”
Originally from London, Ont., Dalglish, 62, was convicted last June and later sentenced to nine years in prison. The Order of Canada recipient has denied any wrongdoing and has assembled a new legal team to fight his conviction.
Nepalese police arrested him in the early hours of April 8, 2018, at his mountain home in the village of Kartike, east of the capital of Kathmandu. Police alleged he had raped two Nepalese boys aged 11 and 14, who were in his home.
On appeal, Dalglish says the investigation was carried out jointly by Nepalese police and the organization Sathi, which aims to expose child predators. He maintains both pressed witnesses into providing damaging information.
“The police offered bribes and incentives to potential witnesses and their families in exchange for damaging information about the defendant. They threatened those who could not be bought,” the appeal brief states. “Although the police and Sathi may have begun this investigation in good faith, when they found nothing, they resorted to tactics that have led to unreliable evidence.”
Dalglish’s lawyers maintain the two boys provided various accounts of what allegedly occurred before recanting their accusations. They say medical examinations turned up no DNA or other evidence indicating he had sexually assaulted them. They say police searches of his home were illegal and, despite court findings, turned up nothing incriminating.
For example, they say investigators seized photographs police characterized as evidence of child pornography. Dalglish’s lawyers counter that one of the pictures shows his daughter and family friends — in bathing suits — at a summer cabin in Ontario.
Dalglish’s lawyers also argue his trial was grossly unfair. Among other things, they say he had no translator for the proceedings in Nepalese, which he doesn’t speak. They say he was made to sign documents he didn’t understand, and was not allowed to meet his lawyer privately.
None of the appeal claims has been tested in court.
At the time of his arrest, Pushkar Karki, the chief of Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau, accused Dalglish of luring children from poor families with promises of education, jobs and trips, then sexually abusing them.
Andy MacCulloch, a 40-year friend, said Dalglish is a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
“There’s an incredible amount of evidence that this is a frame job,” MacCulloch said. “They presumed him to be guilty.”
One of Dalglish’s lawyers is B.C.-based Dennis Edney, who co-represented former Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr.
Dalglish co-founded a Canadian charity called Street Kids International in the late 1980s. He has worked for several humanitarian agencies, including UN Habitat in Afghanistan and the UN in Liberia.
The Canadian Press first published this article on Jan. 5, 2020.
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press