April 24th, 2024

2025 trial set for human trafficking case

By Delon Shurtz - Lethbridge Herald on March 26, 2024.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDdshurtz@lethbridgeherald.com

A southern Alberta man facing two-and-a-half-year-old charges for sex-related offences, is finally going to trial, but not until next year.

Mohammad Neirabani is scheduled to stand trial Jan. 20-24, 2025 in Lethbridge Court of King’s Bench. The judge and jury trial was set during a brief court hearing in King’s Bench on Monday, during which a voir dire – a mini trial within a trial typically to determine the admissibility of evidence or statements – was also scheduled for five days next month.

The matter has been adjourned several times since a preliminary hearing Sept. 26 of last year when Neirabani was ordered to stand trial on charges of sexual contact with a child, sexual counsel of a child and sexual assault of a person under the age of 16. He was originally charged with those offences, as well as sexual assault causing bodily harm, being a party with others to sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, trafficking in persons and luring a child, but following the preliminary hearing he was committed to stand trial on only three of the charges.

The accused is part of a group of eight men and two youths who were charged in August of 2021 in relation to a human trafficking investigation. Police said several men groomed a 15-year-old girl and took her to specific locations where sex offences took place. Additional victims came forward later in connection with the investigation.

Neirabani was scheduled to stand trial in February of last year in Lethbridge court of justice, but it was adjourned after the accused and his lawyer at the time, Kirsten Lancee of Calgary, parted ways, and Lancee was permitted to get off the record. Lethbridge lawyer Marcus Mueller took over the file a few days later, and the accused re-elected in April to be tried in Court of King’s Bench by a judge and jury.

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