June 24th, 2024

Disclosure forcing adjournments in trafficking case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on April 2, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

Lawyers representing several people charged in relation to a human trafficking case are being forced to seek lengthy adjournments as they struggle to pore over enormous amounts of disclosure.
During a hearing Thursday in Lethbridge provincial court Calgary lawyer Kaysi Fagan asked to adjourn the matter for her client, Mohammad Zafari, until May to give her time to review disclosure, which includes thousands of pages of information and numerous hours of video files, much of which is in a format that is difficult to view.
More lawyers were in court Friday, where they also sought adjournments for the same reasons, and expressed concern the enormous amount of disclosure from the Crown is unorganized and poorly prepared, making it difficult to review.
“Given the nature of the disclosure and the way in which it has been provided, I requested a drive or other format of disclosure to be provided as the way that the disclosure is currently disclosed is untenable,” explained Calgary lawyer Kirsten Lancee.
Lancee, who represents Mohammad Neirabani, told Judge Jerry LeGrandeur the Crown claims there aren’t any issues with disclosure and will not provide a memory drive, despite the issues facing the lawyers.
“Sir, the situation is this; it is disclosure that is not organized by way of folders, names, etcetera, therefore it is taking an incredible amount of time for defence to review it.”
Lancee added that in addition to the enormous amount of disclosure she has already received, the Crown sent additional disclosure as recently as last week, “so it’s still incoming.”
Calgary lawyer Jeanine Zahara, who represents Mahmoud Neirabani, expressed similar concerns, and said her disclosure is contained in a number of separate PDF files, which don’t have a table of contents and aren’t labelled. She said she received additional disclosure as recently as Tuesday and she’s still reviewing some 90 media files and nearly 30 judicial authorizations.
“I am seeking an adjournment so I can continue to review the disclosure,” Zahara said. “It’s taking me much more time than anticipated, just given the format which it’s been received in.”
Calgary Crown Prosecutor Joe Mercier, who did not attend the hearing Friday but was represented by a Lethbridge prosecutor, is seeking a pre-trial conference on many of the matters, but LeGrandeur suggested the conference may unnecessary until lawyers have all the disclosure. He suggested Mercier attend the next court hearing on April 22 for the Neirabani brothers to discuss the issues.
“If he wants pre-trials, and they’ve got these problems, then there needs to be some co-operation here….rather than just sending documents and saying too bad.”
Calgary lawyer James Hawkins appeared for his client, Ziyaad Noor, and said the accused is “eager to proceed” with his case. That matter is proceeding to pre-trial conference and is set to return to court April 13.
A fourth accused, Khaled Alsaid, was also represented by counsel during Friday’s court hearing. That case is moving ahead, however, and Calgary lawyer Rabie Ahmed confirmed his client is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 19 on one count of sexual assault. He is also scheduled to stand trial Dec. 21-23 on charges sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, sexual contact with a child, and sexual counsel of a child. A charge of breaching release orders returns to court next week to schedule a trial date.
In addition to the four accused who were in court Friday, four other adults and two youth were charged in relation to the human trafficking case. One of the youth was sentenced last month and one of the adults, Meriton Krasniqi, is set for trial in September.
Following the arrest of all 10 individuals in August, police said 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. All the accused have been released on bail.

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Where are the 5 kidnapping charges? It appears these 5 victims chose to leave their homes to be with these guys – several times.