Pretrial proceedings conclude, remaining 'Coutts 4' men set for trial

Robert Kraychik reports from Lethbridge, Alberta, where the two remaining Coutts 4 men have finally concluded pretrial proceedings and now are set for the trial to get underway on Thursday.

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Pretrial proceedings for the two remaining Coutts Four defendants, Chris Carbert and Anthony Olienick, who are being charged with conspiracy to murder, concluded on Wednesday in Lethbridge, Alberta.

The jury will enter the courtroom on Thursday morning for the two defendants’ trial, where the two men are accused of conspiring to murder RCMP officers during their participation in the Coutts blockade and protest during the winter of 2022, a peacefully disobedient demonstration occurring alongside the Freedom Convoy in Ottawa.

The two demonstrations broadly opposed government-imposed edicts, mandates, and orders marketed as “public health” measures to reduce COVID-19 transmission.

Carbert and Olienick were part of an original group of four defendants accused of plotting to murder RCMP officers, colloquially dubbed the “Coutts Four”. Two other former defendants, Chris Lysak and Jerry Morin, accepted plea deals to lesser charges.

A publication ban over pretrial proceedings will remain in effect until the trial’s conclusion. Reporting on the trial’s proceedings, however, is permitted. The maximum sentence for those convicted of conspiracy to murder is life imprisonment.

The two defendants have been in remand, held in custody in the Lethbridge Correctional Centre — a prison which holds men convicted of violent crimes such as murder and aggravated assault — for nearly 845 days, since February 14, 2022.

Until last week, the two defendants were brought into court wearing shackles for pretrial proceedings. An appeal from the defence teams persuaded the judge to remove the shackles from the defendants when in the courtroom.

Justice David Labrenz, the judge overseeing the trial, stated the Lethbridge Courthouse will have courtroom availability for ongoing proceedings until the end of July. Additional dates can be set if the trial requires more time.

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