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Edmonton attack suspect case delayed another 30 days

Jonny Wakefield
Tuesday February 13, 2018

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif faces a string of charges in connection with the Sept. 30 attacks, including five counts of attempted murder.
Doctors have requested another 30 days to assess whether a man arrested after pedestrians were run down following an attack on a city police officer could be held criminally responsible.

It’s the latest delay in the case of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, who faces a string of charges including five counts of attempted murder after the officer was run down and stabbed before a U-Haul truck was driven into pedestrians in downtown Edmonton Sept. 30. 

Sharif has not entered pleas on the charges.

“Delays are always of concern, there’s no doubt about that,” Sharif’s defence lawyer, Karanpal Aujla said after his client appeared in Edmonton provincial court Monday. “In a case like this, it has been taking quite a bit of time to get these assessments. Typically it doesn’t take that long.

“However, I do understand the doctors are doing what they can — it’s a relatively complex case and the doctors feel that complexity exists based on fact that they still need additional time to do that.”

Sharif was ordered in December to undergo two mental health-related assessments at Alberta Hospital, which were delayed due to a bed shortage. He has been in the hospital since December.

At his Jan. 12 provincial court appearance, court heard that Sharif had been deemed fit to stand trial.

The not-criminally-responsible assessment will help the court determine whether he understood his actions and whether he had the ability to control his behaviour. Accused people found not criminally responsible can be ordered to serve a sentence in a mental institution instead of prison. 

Sharif appeared in court Monday on CCTV from Alberta Hospital. Wearing black, he sat in an office chair at the far end of a conference table. 

Crown prosecutors expressed concern about the time it has taken to complete the assessments, which were requested by the defence.

Aujla said the delays are due to health-care resourcing issues and did not arise from any actions by the defence.

The availability of Somali language interpreters to conduct interviews with Sharif also contributed to the delays, court heard.

The Crown said “substantial” disclosure had been provided to the defence, and that moving forward with election for trial by judge alone or judge and jury, as well as pleas does not necessarily require the not-criminally-responsible results.

Judge D.R. Valgardson sided with Aujla, saying it would be beneficial to have the results of the assessment before pleas are entered.

Asked how his client is feeling, Aujla said it would be “unfair” to speak on his behalf.

“As far as I know, he’s fine in the sense that he’s getting the attention and the time, medically speaking, that he needs, and they are doing interviews with him, keeping a close watch on him and monitoring his actions day in, day out,” he said.

Sharif’s next appearance is scheduled for March 14.

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