Victim's fuzzy memory challenged on witness stand in Penticton kidnapping trial | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Victim's fuzzy memory challenged on witness stand in Penticton kidnapping trial

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PENTICTON - A kidnapping trial underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Penticton took an unexpected twist today as more evidence surfaced, challenging the memory of a key witness.

Afshin Maleki Ighani, born in 1961, has pled not guilty to 10 charges, including kidnapping and numerous weapons charges, related to an April 22, 2017 alleged kidnapping that ended with his arrest in Princeton.

He is accused of kidnapping Jodie Walker and Christopher William Gleige, forcing them to drive to Manning Park, where Ighani abandoned Gleige on a forestry side road. Police caught up with Ighani and Walker at a Princeton mobile home park later that day.

Of the two victims only Walker is available to give evidence, as it is believed Gleige has fled to the U.S. But Walker has claimed she has little memory of the incident, even denying recognizing herself when faced with a videotape interview made by police.

Defence lawyer Paul McMurray told Judge Nitya Iyer today, Dec. 5, he was made aware of the new disclosure yesterday afternoon. It was an Oct. 18, 2018 interview conducted by RCMP Const. Kim Jones with Walker in which references to the Ighani case were made.

The officer, a member of Kelowna’s major crime unit, was asking questions related to the death of Jesse McKnight of Oliver, who is also the father of Walker’s child.

In a recording of “snippets” taken from the interview, Walker can be heard referencing Ighani as Ry and telling the officer, “I talk to Ry all the time, like Ry calls from jail all the time.”

She then told the officer how Ighani came to be in jail after the April 22, 2017 incident.

“So he kidnapped you last year, with a firearm?” the officer asked. “Yeah,” Walker replied.

The officer then asked why Ighani kidnapped the pair, Walker replying Ighani had some drugs stolen and thought she and Gleige, her ex-boyfriend, might know something about it.

The officer returned to the subject of Ighani’s phone calls, asking again if he contacted Walker.

“Oh yeah. He calls,” she said.

Walker also talked about being subpoenaed for the trial telling the officer, “Gleige was supposed to testify, but I’m the only one left to testify."

Crown prosecutor John Swanson called Walker back to the stand today and grilled her about her memory of the interview, which took place less than two months ago.

Walker claimed to recognize her voice, but disagreed with Swanson she admitted to talking to Ighani. She admitted at one point to “saying something like that,” and at another point saying she meant he was talking to other people. But she also claimed she had not spoken to him since he was placed in Okanagan Correctional Centre.

“If I suggest to you that you said to Const. Kim Jones, ‘Ighani Afshin, he’s the one who kidnapped me last year, what with, a firearm, or whatever, and I have to go to court in December.’ Do you remember saying that on Oct. 18, 2018?” Swanson asked.

“I might have, yes,” Walker replied.

“So on Oct. 18, 2018 you had a memory of being kidnapped by Mr. Ighani?”

“No, I didn’t,” she replied.

“So when the police officer suggested to you, ‘so he kidnapped you last year with a firearm,' did you say, ‘yeah?’” asked Swanson.

“I might have,” she said.

“So you acknowledge to the police officer that you were in fact kidnapped with a firearm by Mr. Ighani, on April 22, 2017?” Swanson asked.

“I might have said that, yeah, I was referring to (long pause) whole situation, not what happened,” Walker said.

Ighani's lawyer asked the judge for an adjournment, requesting time to get copies of phone records from the prison, as phone calls made by inmates to parties other than lawyers are recorded by the institution.

McMurray called the reliability of Walker’s testimony into question, noting her allusion to the alleged telephone contact with Ighani was now being denied.

Judge Iyer granted the adjournment. Ighani, who faces other court matters in the new year, will be back in court on Jan. 7. At that time, a date will be fixed for resumption of the trial.

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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