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Bail Denied in Forced-Marriage Case

January 9, 1999

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Two men accused of trying to smuggle a bound-and-gagged woman across the U.S. border in a frigid car trunk were denied bail Friday as family members disputed her claim of being forced into an arranged marriage.

A federal magistrate ruled that Afghanistan natives Jamal Nasser Aziz, 37, of Toronto, and Wahid Nader, 29, of San Francisco, are a danger to the woman, Mine Betoor. Aziz, Ms. Betoor’s uncle, and Nader, her would-be husband, face kidnapping and smuggling charges.

Immigration agents discovered Ms. Betoor at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls on Jan. 1. Authorities said her hands and feet had been bound, a scarf was placed in her mouth and she had been in the trunk 2 1/2 hours.

Ms. Betoor, whose age was not released, told authorities she was trying to escape the Dec. 29 marriage in Toronto when Aziz and Nader knocked her unconscious. She said she was held more than two days in the basement of her uncle’s home before being put in the trunk, where she was joined by Nader. She said Aziz threatened to kill her if she made a noise.

In arguing against bail, federal prosecutors said Ms. Betoor fears for her life because her family supports the men.

Relatives claimed she is lying.

Aziz’s brother, Abdul Aziz, and a cousin who would not give his name, said Ms. Betoor and Nader had been married since 1994. They showed what appeared to be a marriage certificate from Pakistan and photos of Ms. Betoor and Nader together.

They claimed Ms. Betoor, living in Canada since 1995, wanted to see the United States. They said Ms. Betoor made up the arranged marriage claim so she wouldn’t get in trouble if caught, and that they were told she wanted to be gagged in case she panicked and screamed at the border.

Attorneys for Aziz and Nader said they were still sorting out details and could not confirm the claims.

``It would be unusual for an alien to want to be smuggled in bound and gagged,″ said assistant U.S. Attorney Trini Ross. ``Common sense says that makes absolutely no sense.″

And whether the couple really are married is irrelevant because a spouse has no authority to kidnap another spouse, she said.

Nader, a naturalized American citizen, was convicted last year of assaulting Ms. Betoor. Aziz, a naturalized Canadian citizen, was convicted in 1996 of aiding and abetting people who illegally entered Canada.

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