May 18th, 2024

Not guilty plea in human trafficking case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 8, 2022.


One of eight men charged last summer in relation to human trafficking offences has pleaded not guilty to his charges, and is preparing to go to trial.
The lawyer for Meriton Krasniqi entered the pleas Friday in Lethbridge provincial court, and said the case will likely require a two-day trial. In the meantime, the matter has been adjourned until Monday at the Case Management Office in the courthouse to schedule a date for a pre-trial conference, at which a trial date will likely be set.
Police alleged that several men from Lethbridge and Calgary selected and groomed a 15-year-old girl and took her to specific locations where sex offences occurred. The same individuals had also engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and three additional complainants came forward later in connection with the investigation.
Eight adults and two youth were arrested in August and charged with various sex offences. Krasniqi, who is the first of the accused to enter pleas, faces charges of sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching, sexual assault causing bodily harm, sexual assault/party to offence with another person, aggravated sexual assault, trafficking in persons under the age of 18, and two counts of sexual assault.
The case has been delayed several times since charges were laid while lawyers for all the accused waited to receive disclosure from Specialized Prosecutions in Calgary. During a hearing Dec. 17, court was told police had finally sent the Crown’s office a “voluminous” amount of information, which would immediately be passed on to lawyers.
At the same hearing, Calgary lawyer Rabie Ahmed expressed concern the delays were causing the matter to steadily draw closer to the deadline set by the Supreme Court of Canada’s 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.

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