May 25th, 2024

Crown says disclosure ‘on its way’ in human trafficking case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 18, 2021.


Lawyers who have been waiting since August to receive disclosure in relation to human trafficking charges against their clients, have been told they won’t have to wait much longer.
Calgary Crown Prosecutor Ron Simenik said Friday in Lethbridge provincial court that the voluminous amount of information for which lawyers have been waiting – and not always patiently – has finally been sent by the Lethbridge Police Service to Specialized Prosecutions in Calgary, and will immediately be passed on to the lawyers.
“It’s on its way,” Simenik promised.
Simenik was responding to concerns expressed Friday by several lawyers or their agents that after several months of waiting they still don’t have disclosure, or only have very little of it.
“The disclosure we’ve received is wholly, wholly inadequate,” Calgary lawyer Rabie Ahmed said.
He said the case is steadily pushing toward a deadline set by the the Jordan ruling, which is intended to ensure an accused is tried within a reasonable amount of time. That time is 18 months between the charges and trial in provincial court, without a preliminary hearing, and 30 months in superior courts.
Ahmed said he has no choice but to adjourn the matter to Jan. 14 while he continues to wait for disclosure.
“This adjournment date is being forced upon us,” he said.
Lawyers for five of the 10 accused made brief appearances in court Friday, and all of them adjourned their matters until Jan. 14 to give them time to receive and review the disclosure. Three other adults and two youth have court hearings scheduled for other dates.
The adults accused are Khaled Alsaid, Fadi Chtewi, Meriton Krasniqi, Abdullah Mohammad, Mohammad Neirabani, Mahmoud Neirabani, Mohammad Zafari and Ziyaad Noor. The youth’s identities are protected by a publication ban.
All 10 of the accused are charged in relation to a human trafficking case, in which police say several men selected and groomed a 15-year-old girl and took her to specific locations where sex offences took place. The same individuals had also engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and three additional victims came forward later in connection with the investigation.
The charges include sexual interference, sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault, and all of the accused except Alsaid face charges of trafficking persons under the age of 18.

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