Special to OsoyoosToday
A provincial court judge in Penticton put his foot down Wednesday, saying proceedings against a man accused of two stabbings at the Okanagan Correctional Centre will not be moved to the Kelowna courthouse.
Defence counsel Michael Patterson had started exploring the possibility of moving the preliminary inquiry for Afshin Maleki Ighani, who’s accused of two counts of assault with a weapon and two counts of assault causing bodily harm, to Kelowna, when Judge Greg Koturbash began shaking his head.
“My answer to that is no. The reason it is no, is that the government has decided to build a jail in our jurisdiction and criminal matters should be heard in that jurisdiction,” Judge Koturbash said.
“This courthouse needs to accommodate — this isn’t going to be the last time that there’s going to be an incident arising at the jail. This courthouse needs to accommodate these types of matters,” the judge added.
Crown counsel John Swanson explained that in his talks with courthouse sheriffs in Penticton the process of keeping some distance between the two complainants and the accused – all of whom are in custody at OCC – would be “very difficult for them logistically.”
“Just given the logistics of this courthouse – the size of the holding cells and the transport – it would be difficult if we have Mr. Ighani brought up and the two witnesses at the same time,” Mr. Swanson said.
The judge suggested courthouse staff would have to somehow work around those concerns.
“I can say that I am not going to move this matter to Kelowna. This is happening way too often,” Judge Koturbash said.
“This courthouse needs to be able to go into the 21st century and accommodate these sorts of problems,” Judge Koturbash said.
Mr. Ighani, 45, has been in custody for nearly a year awaiting trial on firearms, assault and kidnapping charges related to an alleged crime spree last spring.
A judge-alone, five-day Supreme Court trial is scheduled for June 4 on those charges.
Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Herald, with which OsoyoosToday shares an editorial services agreement.