June 14th, 2024

Coutts trio to face trial by judge and jury in 2024

By Lethbridge Herald on January 10, 2023.

Herald file photo Crowds gather outside the Lethbridge courthouse in this November file photo as three people charged in the Coutts blockade made an appearance.

Delon Shurtz
Lethbridge Herald

Three men charged with participating in a protest and blockade at the Coutts border crossing a year ago will finally stand trial, but not until the spring of next year.

Lawyers for Marco Van Huigenbos and Alex Van Herk of Fort Macleod, and George Janzen of Taber, made a brief appearance Monday in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench and confirmed the accused will stand trial for three weeks beginning April 2, 2024.

The accused, who have elected to be tried by a judge and jury, were charged last September with mischief over $5,000, alleging they were key participants in the blockade, which lasted for nearly three weeks between January and February of 2022.

During a court hearing last month Van Herk attempted to ask Madam Justice Johnna Kubik about their charges, but she told him to speak to his lawyer.

“You’re represented by counsel, so you can’t make any speeches in front of me. You’ll talk to your counsel about those things,” she said.

Following the December hearing Van Herk said outside the courthouse he simply wanted to know why the men were charged with mischief. And Van Huigenbos, a Fort Macleod town councillor, also expressed his frustration.

“Absolute disappointment in the justice system that likes, essentially, to play games is the way I see it. It’s broken, but this was expected,” Van Huigenbos said.

Several other individuals have also been charged in relation to the protest, including Christopher Lysak who appeared in court Monday. 

Lysak, who has been unrepresented since last month when his lawyer withdrew from the record, told court he plans to retain Calgary lawyer Shaun Leochko.

Lysak, along with Chris Carbert, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin, are charged with conspiracy to commit murder. They were charged in February after RCMP found a cache of guns, body armour and ammunition in trailers at the protest near Coutts.

The four men, who remain in custody, have elected to be tried by a judge and jury and are scheduled to stand trial for three weeks beginning June 12.

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