June 24th, 2024

Trial dates to be set down in human trafficking case


By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on January 24, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A 23-year-old man facing sex-related offences and who was set to stand trial last month before his lawyer cancelled it, is getting ready to schedule another trial.

During a hearing Monday in Lethbridge provincial court, Calgary lawyer Rabie Ahmed said a pre-trial conference has been scheduled next month for his client, Khaled Alsaid, during which the lawyers and judge will discuss the number of days needed for the trial. They are also expected to set dates for the trial, which could be confirmed when the matter returns to regular court on March 31.

Alsaid is charged with sexual assault, sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, sexual contact with a child, and sexual counsel of a child. The charges stem from a police investigation into human trafficking in which 10 individuals, including two youth, were arrested in August 2021. Police said several men groomed a 15-year-old girl and took her to various locations where sex offences took place. The individuals also engaged in sexual activity with a 13-year-old girl, and additional victims came forward later in connection with the investigation.

Alsaid was scheduled to stand trial for three days beginning Dec. 20 of last year, but it was cancelled in November after Ahmed said he wanted to see what happens with related trials scheduled to run this year.

The first of those trials was set to run Jan. 11-13 in provincial court, and involves Ziyaad Noor, a Calgary physician who pleaded not guilty last March to charges of sexual contact with a child, sexual counsel of a child, sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, sexual assault causing bodily harm, aggravated sexual assault, trafficking in persons, and being party to sexual assault.

The trial was cancelled several weeks earlier, however, after Noor re-elected to be tried by Court of King’s Bench judge and jury with a preliminary hearing. In place of the trial, Noor was to have a preliminary hearing on Jan. 11, but it, too, was cancelled. The matter is scheduled to return to Court Feb. 1, ostensibly to schedule a new preliminary hearing.

Another of the accused, Meriton Krasniqi, was also in court Monday, and said he is still waiting for disclosure, several months after requesting it.

Krasniqi, who faces several sex-related offences stemming from the human trafficking case, had been attempting to retain new counsel after he parted ways with his lawyer last June. Court was told Monday, however, Krasniqi may represent himself and the Crown needs to send disclosure directly to him.

That will cause a further delay, explained Calgary Crown Prosecutor Mykel Long, because the 3,000 pages of disclosure and media files have to be redacted since the accused no longer has a lawyer.

Krasniqi told court he won’t decide whether to hire a lawyer until he has disclosure, and added it appears to him the Crown is not putting much effort into providing the information.

“I’m not asking for much, I’m just asking for what I deserve to get,” Krasniqi said. “It’s my right to get my disclosure and I want it.”

Long said he should have disclosure ready to send to the Lethbridge Crown prosecutors’ office within two weeks, and the matter was adjourned to Feb. 6 to confirm Krasniqi has received it.

Krasniqi pleaded not guilty a year ago 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.

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