|Gholam Sadeghi-Jebelli. (QMI AGENCY file photo)
A former Toronto cabbie who sparked an international search for a missing child 17 years ago has been jailed for 15 months for abducting his son in violation of a court order and sending him to Iran.
Gholam Sadeghi-Jebelli, 48, was handed 22-months but had served seven in custody when he was sentenced in Ontario Superior Court of Justice last month for abducting a child in breach of a custody order.
The refugee claimant from Iran, who court heard was linked to terror groups banned in Canada, was also placed on probation for two years.
Jebelli was ordered by an Ontario court in 1995 to surrender the then four-year-old to his mother. The child was sent to live with his grandparents in Iran before returning to Canada 12 years later to escape military conscription just before the age of 18, court heard.
"Mr. Jebelli's act of sending his son out of the country was both planned and deliberate," Justice A.J. O'Marra said in a June 26 judgment. "He sent (his son) to a volatile country with a repressive regime."
He said Jebelli sent the boy to a country where "a Canadian custody order could not be enforced."
O'Marra said nothing could be done even if the boy's whereabouts was known because Iran is not a signatory to The Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.
"She (the mother) was powerless," he wrote. "The impact on (the mother) cannot be overstated. She was devastated because of Mr. Jebelli's action."
Court heard Jebelli was employed as a Toronto taxi driver and in 1992 he and other drivers started the Crown Taxi Service. He has since lost his work permit.
Jebelli was a former member of the Iranian Air Force who fought in the 1980 Iran-Iraq War, court was told.
He was also involved in a movement in the Iranian military opposed to the regime and was imprisoned for five years for "supporting the resistance," the judgment said, adding on release he made his way to Canada and made a refugee claim.
Court was told Jebelli became involved with another resistance group, The People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI), otherwise known as MEK or MKO, a group dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian regime that is listed as a terrorist organization by Canadian and U.S. governments.
Jebelli became the subject of an Interpol manhunt and was arrested on a warrant in Belgium and returned to Canada in December 2010 to stand trial.