Bandidos informant granted refugee status by Canada after cover blown in Australia

Photo: themercury.com.au

 

A former police informant who infiltrated an outlaw motorcycle gang has become the first Australian known to have been granted refugee status by a foreign country after a tribunal in Canada found authorities here blew his cover.

On Monday the ABC revealed that Stevan Utah won a landmark asylum claim in Canada last year after he faced attempts on his life by the Bandidos bikie gang.

Utah’s Australian lawyer, Chris Hannay, confirmed to the Guardian that Utah was granted asylum in Canada by the country’s immigration and refugee board after a judge accepted evidence that the former police informant had murder contracts placed on his life.

“There was a hearing last year and they found he was at risk to come back to Australia because of inadequate protection [by] the Australian authorities in relation to his matters,” Hannay said. “They confirmed he was eligible to be a sanctioned person in Canada.”

In its ruling the Canadian immigration board condemned Australian authorities for failing to provide Utah protection after his cover was blown.

It found Australia’s top crime agency “outed the claimant as an informant” with a 2006 media release “divulging that they had a source” in the Bandidos.

The refugee board found Australian authorities failed to offer Utah adequate protection amid a “broader pattern due to corruption, ineptitude and structural difficulties”, the ABC reported.

A former soldier, Utah fled Australia after his cover was blown and Bandidos members tried to kill him on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. His story was documented in the book Dead Man Running by former detective Duncan McNab. Utah described witnessing vicious beatings, executions and the sale of stolen military weapons.

In a 2013 interview with the Courier Mail he explained why people joined outlaw motorcycle gangs and the culture within them.

“Some [join] because they have a family member or a childhood friend in a club, some because they are lost in life and seek a family environment, some because they love Harley-Davidson motorcycles and some to mask their criminal activities,” he said.

“Very few join to be a criminal, that is a simple byproduct of obtaining membership.”

The Canadian immigration board ruled Utah had presented “clear and convincing evidence” of the failure by Australian authorities to provide him with adequate protection from the Bandidos.

In the ruling, obtained by the ABC, the immigration board member Jodie Schmalzbauer wrote Utah “would more likely than not face a serious risk to his life, almost immediately on his return to Australia”.

In an interview with the ABC Utah said he was “pleased for Australia” that new anti-gang entities had been formed “but the fact is, I am now not Australian”.

“Protection is questionable at best and it was found there is not and was not any ‘internal flight avenue’ available to me,” he said.

Source :

theguardian

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