Slow progress in the strange Penticton trial of accused kidnapper | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Slow progress in the strange Penticton trial of accused kidnapper

Afshin Malecki Ighani returned to court this week as his trial continues.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RCMP
November 21, 2019 - 4:49 PM

The unusual trial of a man on kidnapping charges continued for two more days in Penticton this week, and it’s not over yet.

Afshin Malecki Ighani faces sentencing on 10 charges including kidnapping and weapons offences related to an incident that took place in and around Penticton on April 22, 2017.

Ighani is accused of forcing Jodie Walker and her boyfriend Christopher William Gliege to drive him from Okanagan Falls to the Lower Mainland. The Crown alleges he forced Gliege out of the vehicle by gunpoint on a remote road in Manning Park, firing a shot over his head at one point.

His trial has been ongoing since Dec. 3, 2018, and was adjourned after Ighani fired his lawyer near the trial’s conclusion on May 19, 2019.

His trial has bogged down since he dismissed his lawyer, the latest twist in a trial that saw one key witness flee to the U.S. and the other suffer nearly total memory loss when she took the witness stand.

Several court dates have occurred between then and today, in which the court attempted to work with Ighani to find new representation. When that failed, Ighani insisted on representing himself, resulting in further delays as Ighani sought to have disclosure delivered to his cell at Okanagan Correctional Centre in order for him to prepare his case.

Most of yesterday’s proceedings and a good part of today’s were taken up in explaining points of law to Ighani, who insisted he had not received full disclosure of the evidence in a digital format he could read.

He also sought an opportunity to re-examine testimony of key witness Jodie Walker.

But after a lengthy discussion in which Ighani continuously tried to circle back on issues of disclosure already discussed, Judge Nitya Iyer ruled Crown had wrapped up its case against Ighani prior to the May adjournment of the trial.

The judge eventually ruled the disclosure Ighani was seeking was no longer relevant at this point in the trial, pointedly reminding Ighani of her ruling several times as he attempted to renew the issue.

As far as further cross examination of the key witness, the judge ruled Ighani had previously had lots of opportunity to cross examine Walker, denying that request as well.

Ighani had no witnesses to call in his defence, and the trial began moving forward again this afternoon when Crown prosecutor John Swanson delivered his closing submissions.

Swanson relied on the testimony of key witnesses Jodi Walker and Christopher Gliege, telling the judge the pair’s statements to the police shortly after the incident rang true, in spite of the fact Gliege fled to the United States before the trial and Walker claimed to remember virtually nothing of the incident when she took the stand.

Swanson said there was no evidence the two colluded on their testimonies, which were, for the most part, consistent.

Judge Iyer then proposed an adjournment to allow Ighani time to investigate hiring counsel, possibly through a Rowbotham application, if he was unable to get legal aid, and to provide him with transcripts of trial evidence in order for him to prepare his own submissions.

A Rowbotham application is available to those facing serious and complex criminal charges who have been denied legal aid and cannot afford a lawyer.

Swanson emphatically disagreed with an adjournment for time to seek new legal aid, saying it was too late for Ighani to apply for counsel. He did, however, endorse the proposed adjournment to allow time for Ighani to prepare his submissions.

The trial is expected to resume on Jan. 6, 2020.

For more stories on Afshin Ighani, click this link.


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