ACT News


Canberra man fled to Pakistan half-way through trial on rape, indecency charges

A Canberra public servant fighting rape and indecency charges fled the country for Pakistan to be with his dying father part-way through his ACT Supreme Court trial.

Haider Ali, 35, pleaded not guilty to sexual intercourse without consent and three acts of indecency allegedly committed against a woman in October 2016.

He has since been acquitted of one act of indecency but could face a fresh trial on the other charges.

The prosecution had yet to close its case and Mr Ali's fate remained in limbo when he's believed to have boarded a flight in Sydney bound for Dubai hours before he was set to take the stand to give evidence last week.

His Melbourne-based solicitor Aaron Eidelson​ was "gobsmacked" Mr Ali, a dual citizen of Australia and Pakistan, did not have bail conditions that required he hand over his passport to authorities and avoid all international points of departure.

"He left the country legally. He breached his bail by not showing up at court but otherwise he didn't breach his bail conditions."


Mr Eidelson said Mr Ali's father in Pakistan was dying and the elderly man's illness had been "playing heavily on Haider's mind".

"Especially as a man of Islamic faith and Pakistani background it's extremely important to be with your mother or father at the time of passing."

Mr Eidelson had dinner with Mr Ali the night before he boarded the 7.30am flight and said he hadn't given any indication he planned to leave.

"He was looking forward to giving evidence, he was due to give evidence the following day.

"I know that he was very concerned about his father's imminent death and his father indeed passed away on Sunday."

The lawyer said Mr Ali failed to show up at breakfast as planned on Wednesday and Mr Eidelson arrived to "a huge frenzy" at court, where he learned his client had fled. The defence team was given permission to withdraw from the case.

The remainder of the trial continued in Mr Ali's absence with the judge's summing up. Jurors began deliberations in the case shortly before 1pm on Thursday.

They returned on Monday afternoon to deliver their verdicts and found Mr Ali not guilty of one act of indecency. However, they could not reach a verdict on the other three charges. 

Justice John Burns thanked jurors for their service before they were discharged.

Prosecutor Murray Thomas confirmed to the judge in court the accused had left the country.

"He wasn't stopped in Dubai and from what we know of the ticket is probably now in Pakistan."

Justice Burns said what happened with the remaining charges was largely a matter for the ACT Director of Public Prosecutions but noted: "I don't know that it can go anywhere until a time he's back in the jurisdiction.

"I suspect we won't see him again."

Justice Burns said the complainant in the case might find "some solace" in the likelihood Ali would not return to the country soon.  

ACT DPP Jon White said on Tuesday the office had decided to proceed with the remaining charges and would make "the appropriate listing arrangements".

Mr Eidelson said there was no longer an international warrant for Mr Ali's arrest but if he would likely be arrested if he returned to the country.

"Now he faces the prospect if he returns he might be on trial again."

An ACT Policing spokeswoman declined to comment on the case as it remained before the courts.