Coutts Trial: Unreportable matter excludes media access on Friday

Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick are the two remaining defendants of a group of men dubbed the Coutts Four, which previously included Chris Lysak and Jerry Morin, who were also accused of conspiring to murder law enforcement officers.

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Friday’s proceedings for Chris Carbert’s and Anthony Olienick’s trial in Lethbridge, AB, were mostly conducted in an in-camera session – which excluded news media and other observers – due to a matter that arose in the jury’s absence prior to their scheduled entrance into the courtroom.

In-camera sessions are private and closed to the public.

Proceedings that take place in the absence of the jury are subject to a publication ban that is lifted near the end of the trial when the jurors retire and are sequestered to render verdicts for the charges against the two defendants.

Both Carbert and Olienick are charged with conspiracy to murder, with the Crown alleging that the two conspired to murder police officers. They are also charged with unlawful possession of firearms for a purpose dangerous to the public peace and mischief causing damage over $5,000. Olienick is additionally charged with unlawful possession of an explosive device. Both men pleaded not guilty to all charges against them.

Carbert and Olienick are the two remaining defendants of a group of men dubbed the Coutts Four, which previously included Chris Lysak and Jerry Morin, who were also accused of conspiring to murder law enforcement officers. Lysak and Morin plead guilty to lesser crimes in March and were sentenced to time served in remand.

The charges against Carbert and Olienick stem from their participation in the 2022 Coutts blockade and protest, a peaceful and civilly disobedient demonstration broadly opposed to governmental edicts, orders, and mandates issued as "public health" measures, ostensibly to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

News media and observers were vacated from the courtroom approximately 90 minutes after proceedings began. The jury had not entered the courtroom during this time while Justice David Labrenz – the judge overseeing the trial – addressed a matter with the Crown and defence teams.

The judge, prosecutors, and defence attorneys agreed to address the matter in an in-camera session, excluding media persons and others. Katherin Beyak, Carbert’s defence lawyer, told Rebel News she expected the matter to consume the rest of the day’s proceedings, with the possibility of its resolution by Monday.

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