PENTICTON - The trial of an Oliver First Nations man accused of smuggling guns across the border from the U.S. is set to get underway today, provided a judge rules in favour of the right of the B.C. Supreme court to try him.
Alex Louie appeared in Penticton Supreme court yesterday, Oct. 23, preparing his own defence to nine charges surrounding an alleged attempt to smuggle two guns across the border earlier this year on Feb.1.
Yesterday’s prolonged proceedings were largely the result of Louie’s recalcitrance, refusing to acknowledge his name and responding to questions with a repetitious mantra challenging the court's authority.
Judge Arne Silverman patiently explained the proceedings and outlined a schedule for Louie, guiding proceedings and providing the necessary answers on Louie’s behalf when he refused to cooperate.
Louie believes as a First Nations man, he has the right of free passage across the international border, claiming Canadian laws do not apply to him. He has also been associated with the Freemen on the Land movement.
He was apprehended by Canadian border agents on Feb.1 after a secondary customs inspection revealed two guns wired to the undercarriage of his vehicle.
At a court appearance earlier this year a judge assigned his case to a trial by jury after Louie refused to cooperate with court proceedings.
Prior to selection of the jury, Judge Silverman addressed several issues in a methodical, concise manner with Louie, as well as offering him the option of adjournment to allow him time to get a lawyer, or to request a trial by judge alone.
“I’m okay with a jury if, before I enter my evidence I have to present today, this court has the understanding it holds no jurisdiction, then, after we enter my evidence, at the end of the day I will make that consideration,” Louie said.
Judge Silverman responded Louie might not have the opportunity to do that later, as he would also need Crown prosecutor Clark Burnett’s approval.
“I’ll deal with him later,” Louie said.
Proceedings were also held up as Louie refused to respond to his name, calling himself “Senk’lip" and speaking in his native language at times.
“I will call you sir, because I know you’re not answering to your name,” the judge said.
“You can call me Senk’lip. It would be politically and legally correct,” Louie said, but refused to have his native name added to the indictment.
“When it comes to my objection in terms of being ‘also known as,’ that’s a legislated act. When it comes to the application of the law, there is no treaty with my people here, so that in itself is unethical and it’s a usurpation of my right to define myself in my language,” Louie said.
“I understand that argument, you’re wrong as a matter of law,” the judge said.
Judge Silverman told Louie the morning would be spent selecting a jury with the afternoon devoted to: "Hearing the arguments of the person in the indictment named Alex Louie who indicated in a pre-trial conference issues he wanted to raise.”
“I’m going to give you the chance to speak, but I’m going to control the order of events,” warned the judge.
Louie told the judge he had refused to accept a delivery of Crown’s evidence in the matter, telling the judge he had “never accepted anything from this court, “ claiming further he was “not a person,” and didn’t need anything from the court.
Louie also refused to acknowledge a plea as the nine charges were read against him, instead replying to each charge by saying, “I object in regards to the jurisdiction of this court, so asking me that before you prove your jurisdiction is putting the cart before the horse.”
Not guilty pleas were entered on all nine counts by the judge on Louie’s behalf prior to selection of the jury. Louie asked all prospective jurors whether they had relatives on the reserve or had ever had dealings with natives, selecting only those that answered in the affirmative.
The jury was selected and discharged until today, Oct. 24. Louie’s argument over the B.C. Supreme Court’s jurisdiction in the matter was anticipated to take the afternoon yesterday, with Judge Silverman expected to present his ruling this morning.
The trial is expected to run until Friday.
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