Rapist finally deported
Victim's family relieved after man deemed too dangerous to go free put on plane to Sudan
By Ryan Cormier
November 14, 2009
Journal reporter Ryan Cormier has followed Samuel Luin through the legal and immigration systems since 2005.
Every 30 days, for nearly two years, the family of a young woman raped by Samuel Luin waited fearfully to see if he would be set free.
On Friday, those fears were finally put to rest.
After serving his sentence, then being held for 21 months without charge while awaiting deportation, the convicted rapist has been sent back to his native country of Sudan.
“Today, I'm ecstatic,” said the mother of the woman whom Luin attacked in 2005.
“We'd heard it was coming, but we didn't believe it. It was disbelief right away, then happiness.”
The long-awaited deportation ends a series of court cases and detention hearings that saw Luin transform from a refugee who fled a brutal civil war to a stateless man deemed too dangerous to be set loose in Edmonton.
On the night of Sept. 8, 2005, Luin approached a 19-year-old as she walked home from work at West Edmonton Mall.
She was on a pedestrian footbridge in the Callingwood neighbourhood when he asked her name, and badgered her with questions.
She kept walking. At the end of the footbridge, Luin grabbed her, pulled her into a park and sexually assaulted her.
The young woman, now 23, had walked home that night in an attempt to save money for a friend's birthday gift.
To this day, the young woman suffers psychological effects, her mother said.
“It's in a hundred little ways,” she said Friday. “One time, we were walking in the river valley and a rabbit moved in the bushes. She jumped out of her skin and grabbed my hand. She's afraid to be home alone. She just doesn't feel safe.”
Three weeks later, Luin was arrested blocks away from where the rape was committed. He pleaded guilty to sexual assault and assault causing bodily harm and was sentenced to two years.
Luin's lawyer told court his client suffered from the trauma of growing up in a country torn apart by war. “He grew up in a war culture and environment where people were killed on the street and raped before him.”
In his late teens, Luin's family escaped to an Ethiopian camp and he came to Canada alone as a refugee. He was accepted without a passport or citizenship documents in May 2002 because he said he feared persecution at home.
Only 18, alone in a new country and with little command of English, Luin turned to crime.
In five years, he accumulated 16 criminal convictions from theft to sexual assault. He drifted west from Toronto, leaving a criminal trail in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
Once behind bars in Edmonton, he was involved in seven attacks on inmates and guards.
In July 2007, the Immigration and Refugee Board ordered Luin deported.
To deport a refugee, the Canada Border Services Agency must produce a document called a “danger opinion,” which suggests it is more dangerous to free the individual than to deport him. With that document, authorities could have detained Luin after his criminal sentence ended. Given four months, authorities still didn't produce the opinion in time for his release.
Luin became a free man on Dec. 3, 2007, and disappeared into Edmonton's streets. He quickly skipped an appointment with a probation officer, who notified police.
Twenty-four hours after a warrant was issued and his face was shown on TV, Luin was captured.
That marked the last time he would be a free man in Canada. His danger opinion arrived in February 2008, which guaranteed he would be deported.
Luin's English was poor and he knew no one in Canada. He hired and fired lawyers every few months. Most importantly, he had no documents to prove he'd come from Sudan. Without them, he became a stateless man who would be returned to Canada at the Sudanese border.
As Luin, now 23, had already served his sentence, further jail time was a breach of his rights. The Immigration and Refugee Board had to review his detainment every 30 days. Luin was constantly held on the strength of two arguments: he was too dangerous to be freed and was unlikely to show up for deportation.
Every four weeks, Luin shuffled into court and slumped into a chair in his blue jumpsuit, regulation sneakers and ankle chains.
Every four weeks, a family member of his victim sat worried and nervous in the gallery behind him.
“Each time, I always hoped they'd keep him,” the mother of Luin's victim said. “I kept my fingers crossed, I had people sending out prayers. There was always this lingering doubt he'd go free. Then what?What if my daughter and him got on the same bus?We thought about it a lot, if he'd get out. It scared the hell out of me.”
In the remand centre, Luin was held in segregation 23 hours a day because of violent clashes with guards and other inmates.
Month by month, incremental progress was made with Sudan to issue travel documents for Luin.
Finally, in February 2009, there was a breakthrough when Luin was flown to Ottawa to meet with Sudanese officials.
“There was no indication the Sudanese authorities had any doubt as to Mr. Luin's citizenship,” Kristine Rondeau, a hearings officer for the Canada Border Services Agency, said at the time. “This is a huge step forward.”
However, more delays followed. Sudanese officials were attempting to personally verify the location of Luin's family in the largest country in Africa.
Three months later, the quiet and emotionless Luin appeared to be fed up.
“Sudan is not going to take me back,” he said at one of his monthly hearings, speaking in a thick accent.
“I don't want to be sitting in jail like this. I have struggled to fit into a new society that is foreign to me. Inadvertently, I associated with people who weren't good for me. My eagerness to fit in blinded my reason.”
Also, for the first time, Luin showed a hint of fear at returning to Sudan.
“Life in the Sudan is not a fairy tale, and it is not getting better,” he told the courtroom.
Finally, the Sudanese authorities agreed to take Luin back. He left Canada on Monday.