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THE SIDELINES : Romanian Defectors Await Ruling

<i> From Times wire services</i>

Three teen-age Romanian paddlers have been secluded in a private home, waiting for an immigration hearing that will determine whether they can remain in Canada.

The paddlers--two males and a female--flagged down a Halifax police car Saturday morning and said they wanted to defect. They were competing at the world junior canoe championships, which wrapped up Sunday on Lake Banook.

Jon Stone, spokesman for the Department of Immigration, said the athletes were interviewed by immigration officials Saturday. A decision on their status will be made this week.

“They haven’t made a refugee claim in the legal sense of the word,” Stone said in an interview. “But they wish to remain in Canada and don’t want to return to Romania.”

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