June 20th, 2024

Man charged in human trafficking case denied Legal Aid


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on December 20, 2022.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A man who took a second job to save enough money to hire a lawyer has been told he doesn’t qualify for Legal Aid assistance, because he makes too much money.

Meriton Krasniqi, who faces several sex-related offences stemming from a human trafficking case, had been attempting to retain counsel after he parted ways with his lawyer last June. During a court hearing in October, duty counsel lawyer Brett Carlson explained Krasniqi found a new lawyer but needed more time to raise money for a retainer.

“On the last occasion it was (in court), the Crown agreed to re-open the issue of bail and bury his terms so that (Krasniqi) could try and obtain a second job,” Carlson said. “He has obtained that and is seeking to retain counsel…and seeking to raise the retainer.”

On Monday in Lethbridge provincial court, duty counsel lawyer Jeremy DeBow said the accused is still trying to secure counsel, but failed to qualify for Legal Aid. He added, however, Krasniqi can try to retain a lawyer privately, or re-apply to Legal Aid.

“There is a fresh referral in place should he wish to take advantage of that,” DeBow said.

Krasniqi pleaded not guilty Jan. 7 to 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.

Police alleged that eight men and two youth 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.

Kransiqi was set to stand trial last September, but it was cancelled after his previous lawyer withdrew.

In addition to seeking a lawyer, Krasniqi has also been waiting to receive disclosure from the Crown’s office which comprises more than 3,000 pages.

On Monday court was told the Crown prosecutor from the regional and rural response office was expected to put the disclosure on a USB drive and courier it to Lethbridge in time for the next court hearing on Friday, when it could be turned over to the accused.

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pursuit diver

Too bad! I guess he will have to sell his vehicle and take a loan on his house.
I have zero compassion for this scumbag! A loud and clear message needs to be sent out to the human traffickers by charging this scumbag with every charge available and giving him maximum sentencing for all. When he is incarcerated, he gets no extra protection measures.

Fairness

Rightly you call the traffickers “Scumbags”. What do we call the persons who are supporting them when they buy the service being sold.