News / Halifax

Doctor filmed staffers in Nova Scotia clinic's washroom, police allege

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NEW GLASGOW, N.S. — A doctor who fled war-torn Iraq a decade ago has been charged with voyeurism after staff at a Nova Scotia medical clinic were surreptitiously filmed while using the washroom.

Dr. Rafid al-Nassar, 41, was arrested after New Glasgow Regional Police received a complaint from staff at the Westside Medical Centre.

"The incident happened in the staff washroom, and the complaint came from staff members," Const. Ken MacDonald said Wednesday.

The force's major crime unit investigated the allegations for nine months before Tuesday's arrest, he said.

"They seized electronic devices and ... as of this time, police identified all the persons in the recordings," MacDonald said.

Al-Nassar was released with strict conditions to appear in Pictou provincial court on Dec. 5.

He graduated from the University of Al-Mustansiriyah College of Medicine in Baghdad in 1998, according to the Nova Scotia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

A 2008 story in the Toronto Star said al-Nassar and his family left Iraq after his wife was almost kidnapped in Baghdad in 2005.

A neighbour frightened the kidnappers off, but not before kicking the couple in the head, according to the Star. The family made its way to Jordan as UN refugees, and then came to Canada as immigrants, arriving in Toronto in late winter 2008, the paper reported.

Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the physicians' College, said al-Nassar worked in Ontario for a time and has practised in Nova Scotia since Nov. 10, 2011.

Al-Nassar came to Nova Scotia through a now-defunct program used to lure international medical graduates, working under a "defined licence" requiring him to complete a family physician certification exam by the end of 2016, Grant said.

Grant said he was informed Tuesday afternoon that al-Nassar had been arrested, and he quickly convened an investigations committee that issued an interim suspension of al-Nassar's medical licence.

"The nature of the allegations were serious enough for the committee to act on an interim basis without having heard from Dr. al-Nassar," he said.

"It's available for Dr. al-Nassar to request an audience before the investigation committee to have the merits of his interim suspension lifted if he so requests. The suspension remains in effect unless and until a committee decides otherwise."

Grant said he was told a "camouflaged camera" was found in the washroom, and police searched al-Nassar's home and workplace, and seized computers.

"I was assured by law enforcement that the camera in question and the washroom in question were not used by the patient population but rather they were strictly for the use of staff of Dr. al-Nassar's clinic."

Grant said he was not aware of any prior disciplinary issues involving al-Nassar.

Police say the investigation continues.

— By Rob Roberts in Halifax

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