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Accused in Edmonton vehicle attacks parts ways with lawyers weeks into pretrial hearing

Saturday March 23, 2019

A photo of Abdulahi Hasan Sharif supplied by police.

A man accused of attacking a police officer and running down four pedestrians in downtown Edmonton is parting ways with his lawyers weeks into a pretrial proceeding.

Tom Engel, one of two lawyers representing Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, confirmed Thursday that he advised the court the day before that Sharif had terminated their retainer agreement.

Engel said he and his colleague Samantha Labahn were granted leave to withdraw from the case and have done so. Sharif is now self-represented but told the court he wants to get another lawyer.

Engel said he could not comment on the matter beyond what was said in court.

The case was almost three weeks into a voir dire — a type of trial within a trial held to determine whether certain evidence can be presented to a jury. The voir dire began earlier this month and was originally scheduled to run until March 22.

Sharif’s next court date is set for March 28, where he is scheduled to speak to the matter.

It is not clear how the change will affect scheduling of Sharif’s trial, which is set to begin in October.

Police investigate a U-Haul truck involved in the Sept. 30, 2017 attack in Edmonton. Greg Southam / Postmedia

Sharif was in court for the voir dire hearings, where he listened to the proceedings translated by a Somali language interpreter. Evidence from the hearings is covered by a publication ban.

The 32-year-old is charged with 11 offences including five counts of attempted murder following two vehicle attacks in Edmonton on Sept. 30, 2017. Police at first described the events as “acts of terrorism,” though no terrorism-related charges have been laid in the case.

Sharif was represented by defence lawyer Karanpal Aujla during his initial court appearances.


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