Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
'Senior' lawyer agrees to represent accused in Edmonton attack

Wednesday April 10, 2019
By Jonny Wakefield   

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif is accused of committing a car and knife attack on a police officer on Sept. 30, 2017. Investigators allege he later used a U-Haul truck to strike four pedestrians while fleeing police. No one was killed in the incidents. Edmonton   

A “senior” lawyer has been lined up to meet with the man accused in the Sept. 30, 2017, Edmonton attack, weeks after he parted ways with his previous legal counsel.

Abdulahi Hasan Sharif appeared in the prisoner dock of an Edmonton courtroom Tuesday. In 2017, he was charged with a series of offences including five counts of attempted murder following a series of vehicle attacks on a police officer and pedestrians.

Last month, Sharif suddenly parted ways with his high-profile lawyer three weeks into a pretrial proceeding. Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Paul Belzil instructed him to find a new lawyer through Legal Aid during a hearing March 28. However, Sharif had not done so by Tuesday’s court appearance.

Doug Ingersoll, assistant general counsel for Legal Aid Alberta, was on hand Tuesday to try to sort out the situation.

Legal Aid is a publicly-funded service that supplies lawyers for accused people who cannot afford legal representation.

Ingersoll gave Sharif the option of selecting from a list of senior lawyers available to represent him, or of having one appointed to meet with him.

That lawyer, who was not identified in court, has already been selected and is available to take the case, Ingersoll said. Sharif picked that option, and Belzil asked that the lawyer meet with the accused by next Thursday.

Ingersoll spoke in short sentences so an interpreter, seated next to Sharif in the prisoner dock, could translate the proceedings into Somali.

The new lawyer will have a tall task going through what Justice Paul Belzil called a “voluminous” amount of evidence disclosure from police.

Belzil stressed, however, that the lawyer would have sufficient time to review the material. “We’re not trying to jam anyone here,” he said.

The judge also threw out nine additional days in June that had been scheduled for a voir dire — a type of trial within a trial on the admissibility of evidence. Evidence in those proceedings is covered by a publication ban.

Whoever Sharif chooses will be his fourth lawyer.

He was initially represented by Karanpal Aujla, who was his counsel during his fitness to stand trial and not criminally responsible assessments.

Samantha Labahn later took over, and was joined by her colleague Tom Engel, a well-known defence lawyer.

Sharif’s lengthy trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection Sept. 30. At Sharif’s last appearance, Belzil was adamant that he would not vacate the trial dates over the change in counsel.

Police initially referred to the events of Sept. 30, 2017, as acts of terrorism, though no terrorism charges have been laid in the case.

Sharif’s next appearance is set for April 24.


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