South Okanagan kidnapping trial continues in bizarre fashion - InfoNews

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South Okanagan kidnapping trial continues in bizarre fashion

The strange trisl of Afshin Ighani took on more twists and delays in Penticton court this morning, Jan. 10, 2019.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED / RCMP
January 10, 2020 - 1:53 PM

The strange Penticton trial of a man charged with kidnapping continued today, only to be adjourned for a recess when the accused told the court he wanted to go back to his cell.

Afshin Malecki Ighani is being tried on 10 counts including kidnapping and weapons offences related to an incident that took place in and around Princeton on April 22, 2017.

Ighani’s trial has been filled with plot twists and delays, from key witness Christopher Gliege’s flight to the United States to avoid testifying, to the case’s other key witness, Jodie Walker’s claims under oath of not remembering event the most basic details of the incident.

As the trial neared its original conclusion in May of 2019, Ighani fired defence lawyer Paul McMurray, resulting in a series of delays as Ighani made attempts to represent himself.

At today’s, Jan. 10, proceedings, McMurray appeared in Penticton court in an effort to re-represent Ighani.

McMurray’s arrival in Penticton was delayed following a morning flight from Vancouver that was diverted from Penticton to Kelowna due to the snowy weather.

With Crown having rested its case in the matter, McMurray began submissions on behalf of Ighani, calling into question the testimony of both key witnesses.

Crown prosecutor John Swanson was forced to rely on Gliege’s preliminary inquiry testimony following his flight to the U.S., while Walker’s testimony mainly coming from statements made to police shortly after the incident, given her lack of memory during her testimony under oath.

McMurray accused Gliege of “making things up as he went along” advising Judge Nitya Iyer to “view his evidence extremely skeptically.”

As McMurray began calling into question Walker’s statements, Ighani began showing signs of agitation and restlessness in the courtroom, raising his hand as if intending to ask a question several times before the judge asked him what was wrong.

Ighani stated he didn’t want to proceed, requesting he be returned to his cell.

"I’m sorry ma’am, I want to go to my cell,” he told the judge, who told him to take a seat several times.

“I just don’t want to proceed, I want to give my own submissions,” Ighani insisted.

“I apologize … but I want to take this on my own. I don’t want to stay here. I want to go to my cell,” he said.

“I think Mr. Ighani wishes to continue as his own counsel,” McMurray told Judge Iyer, offering to stand down in order to discuss this issue with Ighani.

“Mr. Ighani, please understand, that we are in closing submissions. Your counsel is making those submissions on your behalf and I am hearing them. I have previously discussed with you at great length the consequences between having counsel and representing yourself. This trial has proceeded in fits and starts for some time in order to allow you to make the determination of how you want to proceed,” the judge said.

"In proceeding to represent yourself, you have come to court today having re-retained Mr. McMurray who is making submissions now on your behalf.” Iyer told Ighani, adjourning to allow time for Ighani to have “productive discussions” with McMurray.

The judge also cautioned Ighani that dismissing McMurray a second time would not result in further adjournment.

“This trial started a year ago. It’s time it came to an end,” she said.

The trial resumes later today, Jan. 10.

Find past stories on the Ighani case here.


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