June 18th, 2024

Discussions over evidence prompts adjournment

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on February 2, 2023.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

The case against one of several men accused in relation to human trafficking and other sex offences, has been adjourned mid-trial while lawyers argue whether the sexual history of a female complainant can be admitted as evidence.

The three-day trial for Mahmoud Neirabani began Monday in Lethbridge provincial court, but by Tuesday it was already being adjourned after the defence submitted an application to allow evidence relating to the complainant’s previous sexual activity.

Under Section 276 of the Criminal Code, evidence that a complainant has engaged in sexual activity, whether with the accused or with any other person, is not admissible to support an inference that the complainant is more likely to have consented to the sexual activity that forms the subject-matter of the charge, or is less worthy of belief.

The complainant had testified for the Crown, but defence chose to submit the 276 application before its cross-examination of the complainant and before the Crown could call any more of its witnesses.

The matter is scheduled to return to court Feb. 10 to schedule a date to speak to the application.

Neirabani is charged with sexual contact with a child, sexual counsel of a child, sexual assault, sexual assault of a person under the age of 16, trafficking in persons, sexual assault with two or more parties, and two counts of aggravated sexual assault.

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.

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