July 25th, 2024

Human trafficking case bogged down with disclosure


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

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

It’s been nearly a year since 10 people were arrested and charged in relation to a human trafficking case, yet several lawyers still haven’t received all their disclosure from the Crown’s office.
Lawyers representing three of the accused, Mahmoud Neirabani, Mohammad Neirabani and Abudullah Mohammad, were in Lethbridge provincial court Wednesday, but could only adjourn their matters without taking any substantial steps in the case while they wait to receive more disclosure and review numerous digital files and thousands of pages of information they previously received.
Calgary lawyer Kirsten Lancee, who represents Mohammad Neirabani, told court she is concerned the repeated adjournments to receive ongoing disclosure will impact her client’s right to a speedy trial as guaranteed under a section of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“This is quickly becoming a very grave concern regarding a Section 11(b) application,” Lancee said.
She said she has received 90 media files and 20,000 pages of disclosure so far, and still expects to receive additional disclosure, which will take more time to review. She is particularly concerned about DNA disclosure she received only last month, even though the Calgary Crown had received authorization for a DNA warrant to obtain bodily substances from her client last August when the accused was charged and arrested. DNA was not obtained at that time, and the Crown notified defence in April of this year that a DNA sample would finally be taken, which it was on May 6.
Lancee was granted an adjournment to June 22.
Calgary lawyer Jeanine Zahara, who represents Mahmoud Neirabani, said she received additional disclosure May 18 and again on Tuesday, which she has not had time to review. She added the issues regarding DNA don’t apply to her client, however, and her matters were adjourned for one week, which, she assured court, would give her time to review the most recent disclosure.
Lethbridge lawyer Marcus Mueller told court his client, Abdullah Mohammad, is preparing to have a preliminary hearing, a date for which may be scheduled when his matter returns to court June 22. In the meantime, however, he, too, is waiting for more disclosure.
“I’m also in the same boat as Miss Lancee as far as disclosure is concerned,” Mueller said. “We’re receiving more disclosure today now, and that’s after I’d been assured that disclosure was complete.”
The accused are part of a group of men and two youth who were charged last August in relation to a human trafficking investigation. 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 but one of the accused face charges of trafficking persons under the age of 18. All the accused were released on bail shortly after they were arrested, and one of the youths pleaded guilty in March to two counts of sexual assault against two girls, and was given a two-year deferred custody and supervision order, to be served in the community.

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h2ofield

The longer this gets drawn out, the less chance of prosecution. It sucks these losers aren’t getting dealt with.