El Fechtali convicted in Alger attempted kidnapping case

MUNISING – A Canadian man was convicted after a two-day jury trial in Alger County Circuit Court Tuesday on two felonies involving his contact with a 12-year-old girl in Munising in November 2011.

Mohamed El Fechtali, 42, of Pierrefonds, Quebec was convicted of attempted kidnapping and enticing a child for immoral purposes, five-year and four-year felonies, respectively. Court staff said the jury returned the verdict at about 9 p.m. Tuesday.

A sentencing date had not been set and El Fechtali was being held in the Alger County Jail.

The case dates back to Nov. 9, 2011.

According to testimony during a preliminary hearing in the case, the 12-year-old girl said she was walking home a distance of three houses from her grandmother’s Brown’s Addition residence in Munising, when she saw a dark-colored car slowing down along M-28.

“A man stopped on the other side of the road and called me over there,” the girl said.

She noticed the car had Canadian license plates. It was a snowy afternoon and the man, who she did not know, motioned her to him with his hand, the girl said.

The girl said the man asked her if she knew where Canada was. When she told him she didn’t know, the girl testified he told her his name, asked her to be friends and to get in the car. The girl said she refused. She testified that the man then said, “OK OK OK, I’m not going to kidnap you.”

The girl testified she told the man she was going home, and when the man didn’t say anything back, she ran to her house and told her stepfather what had happened. He called the police.

Fechtali was later found in the Seney area. Michigan State Police brought him back to Munising, where he was eventually arrested after being questioned for about three hours.

Police said Fechtali was unemployed and had been away from Quebec for two weeks on a job hunting trip to Saskatchewan. On his way home, he had headed into the U.S. at North Dakota because the roads were said to be better and there was a storm coming. He had stayed in Superior, Wis. the night before he came to Munising.

There, he told police, he had a sexual liaison with a woman at a nightclub after meeting her and talking with her. Police said Fechtali moved to Canada in 2003 from his native Morocco and became a dual citizen of both countries in 2007.

Munising Police Chief John Nelson testified Fechtali initially denied any contact with the girl in Munising. But he eventually admitted summoning her to his car for directions, shaking her hand, suggesting being friends and offering her a ride in a friendly way, not ordering her into the car, Nelson said.

“He said he kept this conversation going in hopes of a consensual sexual encounter,” Nelson testified. “He said he thought she was 22 or 24 years old.”

Alger County Prosecuting Attorney Karen Bahrman argued Fechtali – a Canadian citizen with a GPS navigation device in his car – asked for directions to Canada solely as a pretext to abduct and accost the girl.