Disturbing trial in Penticton court proceeds without main witness | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Disturbing trial in Penticton court proceeds without main witness

The trial of Afshin M. Ighani began in Penticton court today, Dec. 3, 2018, The man faces 10 charges stemming from incidents that took place near Princeton on April 22, 2017.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RCMP

PENTICTON - The trial for a man accused of a long and troublesome series of crimes in the South Okanagan last year will proceed under very unusual circumstances.

A main witness — one of two people Afshin M. Ighani is accused of kidnapping and threatening at gunpoint — won’t be testifying against him. Crown prosecutor John Swanson told the court on the opening day of the trial Christopher William Gliege “fled” the country, likely to the U.S.

He offered no explanation for why he might have “fled”.

Losing a key witness might have put the trial on many of his charges in jeopardy but B.C. Supreme Court justice Nitya Iyer ruled the Crown can use evidence Gliege gave at a preliminary inquiry.

Ighani, born in 1961, is on trial on 10 counts, including two counts of kidnapping, several weapons offences, uttering threats and assault with a weapon in a trial by judge alone that is expected to take several days.

The Crown alleges he held the man and woman at gunpoint April 22, 2017, forcing them to drive him around Manning Park before a confrontation with police.

Without one of its main witnesses, the Crown will have to rely more heavily on the evidence of Jodie Walker, 26, the woman in the vehicle. She told the court this afternoon she had little recollection of the events, but she was also reluctant to speak to police shortly after the incident as well.

In video played in court, an officer asks her why she is concerned about speaking to police.

"Ighani getting out of jail and killing me,” she says.

Earlier today, Swanson went over his case in some detail. Ighani requested a ride to the Lower Mainland from Walker and Gliege. The three drove along Highway 3 into Manning Park when Ighani asked the driver to pull onto a forestry service road.

They drove approximately six kilometres up the road before Ighani told Gliege, the driver, to stop the vehicle.

He then threatened Gliege with a firearm and ordered him to dig near a certain marker.

Swanson said Gliege refused to dig, and Ighani drove off with Walker. He returned a short time later, and the three returned to within a couple of kilometres of the highway when Ighani ordered the man out of the vehicle.

Ighani threatened him again, firing the gun this time before taking off again with Walker.

Gliege made it out to the highway where he was aided by a passing motorist, Swanson said.

RCMP were notified and the vehicle was spotted in a Princeton mobile home park. Swanson said Ighani fled the scene, but a police service dog tracked him and Ighani was arrested without further incident.

A search of the vehicle’s engine compartment turned up a revolver similar to the one described by Gliege.

DNA analysis found two different profiles on the weapon. Swanson said Ighani’s DNA could not be eliminated from the samples.

The trial continues through this week.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Steve Arstad or call 250-488-3065 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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