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B.C. killer seeks to attend sentencing by video as lawyer cites safety concerns

A sketch shows Ibrahim Ali as he stands trial for the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl. The trial began on April 5, 2023. A sketch shows Ibrahim Ali as he stands trial for the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl. The trial began on April 5, 2023.

A man convicted of the first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl wants to appear at his sentencing hearing by video over fear for his safety, his lawyer told a B.C. Supreme Court hearing on Tuesday.

Kevin McCollough said Ibrahim Ali's attendance in person would pose “real safety issues” and the defence is prepared to file additional affidavits to support their position.

Ali's defence previously told the court that police informed them the victim's father brought a gun to court on the day of the guilty verdict last December.

While no charges were laid, the father of the girl was issued a five-year weapons ban in a Surrey court this month after two licensed guns were seized from his home.

McCullough told Tuesday's hearing that if Ali is compelled to attend the upcoming sentencing in person, he will attend remotely.

“If Mr. Ali is going to be present, I'm certainly not going to be (caught) in the gunfire,” he said. “I'm not going to be present. There are material safety issues.”

McCullough told Justice Lance Bernard that he “cannot believe” the Crown's position that Ali must attend in person, given what has occurred.

“This is not a safe environment for me,” he said of the courthouse in Vancouver.

The judge told the defence lawyer to stop speaking, saying the court would deal with the matter of Ali's sentencing appearance at a later date.

The body of the girl - whose name is protected by a publication ban - was found in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017 and Ali was arrested the next year.

A jury took less than 24 hours to reach its guilty verdict at the end of the eight-month trial last December.

Ali faces a mandatory life term with no chance of parole for 25 years.

McCullough said Tuesday that Ali is “adamant that he is innocent.”

“He is adamant that he didn't kill (the victim), and I expect he will be saying that repeatedly in an open courtroom if he were obliged to come.”

Prosecutor Isobel Keeley said the Crown is opposed to Ali attending his sentencing remotely, and the Criminal Code indicates such an appearance should be in person unless the defence and Crown agree on an alternative with the court's approval.

She said members of the murdered girl's family will be travelling from China to attend, and she expects they will deliver three separate victim impact statements.

One of those will be a video from the victim's father reading his statement in Mandarin, with a translated copy to be read aloud in English, Keeley said.

Another hearing is scheduled Friday to confirm sentencing dates..

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 16, 2024. Top Stories

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