By Dale Boyd
A trial for an alleged armed kidnapping in the South Okanagan is going ahead prior to Christmas 2019 according to a Supreme Court judge, after delays have kept the case in court for years.
Afshin Ighani, 46, is facing a long list of charges including kidnapping using a firearm, pointing a firearm, possessing a firearm without license and registration and uttering threats in relation to an April 22, 2017 incident which led to his arrest.
His trial started on Dec. 3, 2018 and resumed on May 19, 2019 when Justice Nitya Iyer ruled alleged kidnapping victim Jodie Walker’s police statement was admissible as evidence. The Crown rested its case following the decision in May, and Ighani quickly fired his lawyer.
Multiple delays have followed as Ighani attempted to find legal counsel, but he reaffirmed Monday in Supreme Court in Penticton he would represent himself, asking for another adjournment.
Ighani said he did not receive the disclosure of evidence from the Crown with enough time to prepare for trial, receiving the “several hundred pages” of material, Crown said, sometime in early October.
“This trial is going to continue and be completed before Christmas,” Justice Iyer said.
The trial has already faced twists and turns with one of the alleged kidnapping victims, and Walker’s then-boyfriend, Christopher Gliege, reportedly fleeing to the U.S. to avoid testifying.
Ighani argued the disclosure package sent to the South Okanagan Correctional Centre, where he is currently being held in custody, was opened when he received it and missing evidence surrounding the police helicopter which tracked him on the day of the alleged offence. However, Ighani admitted he had yet to read all the materials.
“I read some, it was, I assume, full disclosure,” Ighani said.
“Did you read it all?” Iyer asked.
“I didn’t read everything in detail, I came to the conclusion it was not sufficient time to be ready for this court (date),” Ighani said.
Justice Iyer acknowledged the difficulties of preparing for a trial from prison, but also recognized the trial has been delayed for nearly a year now.
Crown counsel John Swanson argued against the delay, saying the trial has been delayed enough and should resume as scheduled on Oct. 21.
“Considering the seriousness of the charges, that any delay since May 2019 is attributable to Mr. Ighani and that Mr. Ighani said in court that he intends to represent himself, I am satisfied that a short adjournment is warranted,” Iyer said Monday.
The trial will resume on Nov. 25 and is scheduled for three remaining days.
Ighani is also facing unrelated charges which arose during his time in custody at the South Okanagan Correctional Centre — allegedly stabbing two inmates in protective custody and another incident where he allegedly assaulted a prison guard.
Ighani told the court his is still seeking counsel from legal aid, and Iyer granted a delay for Ighani to obtain counsel on those charges.