'Coutts 4' face pre-trial hearing at Lethbridge Courthouse

Ezra Levant reports on a hearing for Anthony Olienick, Chris Carbert, Christopher Lysak and Jerry Morin, four men who were arrested and charged with conspiracy to commit murder at the Coutts border blockade in February 2022.

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I am at the courthouse in Lethbridge, Alberta, for a hearing in the case of four men who were present at the Coutts trucker blockade a year and a half ago. They were charged with very serious offences.

Most people who were charged during the convoy protests or during lockdowns were charged with minor offences, usually provincial offences — really just traffic tickets, but with huge fees attached. Some were charged with minor crimes like mischief, like Tamara Lich.

But the four men who are on trial in this matter are charged with very serious matters, including conspiracy to commit murder, and the targets of that alleged conspiracy are police officers.

Why not defend this case?

Rebel News and The Democracy Fund are defending 3,000 cases of people who were charged with lockdown or convoy-related offences. For example, Tamara Lich’s upcoming case, or Pastor Artur Pawlowski’s ongoing cases. But neither The Democracy Fund nor Rebel News are defending this case because it's outside the scope of a civil liberties defence. It's our view that when you're dealing with serious criminal matters, it's no longer a case of civil disobedience or minor mischief. This is a wholly different matter. 

But we are still interested in this case as journalists, and finding out what the facts are. There are certain things that are astonishing about this case. For example, that the four men who were charged have been in jail awaiting trial for a year and a half already. And the trial won't take place until April 2024, more than two years after the alleged offences.

That's incredible. I saw in the news today that a convicted terrorist, already convicted once, was arrested again and released on bail a second time. That is how lenient and liberal our bail system is in Canada. These men are in prison and have been for more than a year.

Allegations, accusations and publication bans

I was in the courthouse today and there were no mainstream media members, though I did see another independent journalist there. It was mainly the friends and family of the four men who were brought in. They were wearing their civilian clothes. And before the judge entered and after the judge left, the family members were saying “hello” and “I love you.” And the four men were saying “I love you” back. It was actually touching and very sad. Imagine those men having been in prison for a year and a half already.

It's difficult for me to tell you anything of substance, because I've read a great deal of police filings in this matter in the form of an information to obtain (ITO). That's the name of a legal document that the police file with a judge to get a search warrant. They're filed in secret. It's what they call ‘ex parte’ in legal lingo, which means if you want a search warrant on someone, obviously you're not going to tip them off, so you go into court alone. The judge has to be extra fair because the accused is not there with a lawyer to defend himself.

The thing about these police ITOs is that they're not rebutted. They're just allegations and accusations. So, some of them contained very lascivious, shocking and prejudicial facts. In this case, the defence lawyers for the four men requested that the judge put a publication ban on those documents, or at least parts of them. And I know this strikes you as odd. Why would the defence themselves request a publication ban on this information?

Well, it's because this matter will likely go before a jury. And they wouldn't want a jury to hear shocking or prejudicial facts that haven't yet been proven in a court of law. However, that publication ban makes it difficult to talk about the case. Today was a pre-trial hearing on a very narrow matter: whether or not the confession of one of the four accused was voluntary, or if he was instead oppressed into it or tricked into it.

Judge declares police followed the rules

But the judge issued his ruling and said that, in fact, the police followed all the rules. They told him it was his right to remain silent. They gave him a phone call with a lawyer, which he took, and then anything he confessed to, he did so by choice. He was not under duress. So that was an interesting little skirmish before the big battle.

I'll be here tomorrow, too, when there are other preliminary applications like this. But failing a sort of miracle, I would say that these men are going to be in jail for almost another year until the trial comes. It's an extraordinary case and we will cover it.

We are also covering other cases that continue on. We're covering the case of Pastor Artur, who is appealing his conviction in this same courthouse for matters related to that same Coutts blockade. Artur was convicted of three offences there, one in contravention of the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act and two Criminal Code matters. The Democracy Fund is crowdfunding his appeals. We're also covering the national case of Tamara Lich, which goes before a judge in about a month and a half in Ottawa.

Rebel News will follow the story as it unfolds

In the case of the ‘Coutts 4’, we won't be crowdfunding, but we will continue to report on it. I'll be here again tomorrow and when the trial comes next year, we'll cover it too.

I guess what I'm saying is, although the country has more or less gone back to normal after the pandemic and the lockdowns, the law continues to prosecute these men. The family would say the law is persecuting these men. Observers might point out that even convicted terrorists are given more lenient bail conditions than these men.

I, unfortunately, cannot share my opinion with you on the matter because the facts that I would share with you are covered by a publication ban, and I don't want to get in trouble for violating that. I will continue to report what I can today and tomorrow, and we will keep you posted on this case before and when it goes to trial next year.

To see more of our reports from the field, go to RebelFieldReports.com.

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