A suburban Toronto man pleaded guilty to a felony charge Friday in connection with a bizarre kidnapping case that was uncovered by the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Service on New Year's Day.
Jamal Nasser Aziz, 37, a native of Afghanistan, admitted that he helped smuggle his niece, Mine Betoor, 22, over the Rainbow Bridge into Niagara Falls, N.Y., after she tried to rebel against an arranged marriage. Immigration agents found Ms. Betoor bound and gagged in the trunk of a car driven by her uncle.
Aziz, who was scheduled to go to trial next week, pleaded guilty to illegally smuggling an alien over the border. Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Campana said Aziz is likely to face 18 to 24 months in prison when he is sentenced in December by U.S. Senior Judge John T. Elfvin.
The man Ms. Betoor was being forced to marry, Muhammad Wahid Nader, 30, of North York, Ont., took a plea deal in the case in June. Nader was found in the trunk with Ms. Betoor, forcing her to keep quiet.
"(Aziz) admitted that he did take part, but that he was under duress because Nader had threatened the life of his niece if he did not cooperate," said defense lawyer Glenn E. Murray.
Murray said Aziz could have faced eight to 10 years in prison if he had been convicted of smuggling and kidnapping. The kidnapping charge will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.