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Case of man accused in van attack that left 10 dead put over to November

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  • TORONTO — A man accused in a deadly van attack in north Toronto won’t stand trial until next year at the earliest, his lawyer said Friday after the case was put over until November.

    Alek Minassian, who is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder, was not in court for a brief hearing on his case and was represented by his lawyer Boris Bytensky.

    Eight women and two men died after a rental van mounted a sidewalk along a busy street in north Toronto and ran down pedestrians in its path on April 23.

    Bytensky said lawyers are still in the process of combing through witness statements, photos and videos that have been turned over by investigators.

    “It’s certainly not a usual case,” Bytensky told reporters outside court. “This is probably the largest amount of disclosure I’ve received on a case and maybe the largest amount of disclosure that’s been provided in a case that my office has been involved in.” 

    Bytensky added that each officer involved in the massive police response to the incident had provided written statements in the case.

    The matter is set to return to court on Nov. 1, though that date could change if the Attorney General approves a request made by the Crown to move the case to a higher court without a preliminary inquiry, Bytensky said, adding that it’s unlikely the case would proceed to trial any time soon.

    “Everybody still needs to be able to get prepared,” he said. “That really doesn’t change whether we’re going straight to Superior Court or whether we’re staying with the Ontario Court of Justice for a longer period.”

    Bytensky declined to comment on his client’s mental or physical health, saying people should instead focus on the victims of the incident.

    Those who died in the April attack on a northern stretch of Toronto’s bustling Yonge Street ranged in age from 22 to 94, and included a student from South Korea and a man from Jordan.

    An impromptu memorial soon sprung up at the site of the attack, with mourners leaving cards and flowers that have since been placed in storage and replaced by a temporary plaque.

    Mayor John Tory said the city will eventually erect a permanent memorial in consultation with the families of the victims and with people who live in the neighbourhood.

    Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press



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    Freeland says Khashoggi case not closed; but Trump says facts may never be known

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  • OTTAWA — Canada will use the upcoming G20 summit to push for answers in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says.

    Freeland said Tuesday Canada considers his murder to be very much an open case, a contrast to a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump that the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s death might just never be known.

    “Canada very much does not consider the Khashoggi affair to be closed,” Freeland said, hours after Trump released a statement that attempted to bring the controversy to a close for the U.S.

    Freeland said she expects the Khashoggi case to be an issue during the talks among leaders of the world’s 20 top economies in early December in Argentina, and says Canada will persist with its push for a transparent international investigation.

    “It is very clearly Canada’s position that those responsible for this horrendous murder must face full responsibility for it,” she said.

    “We certainly imagine that the Khashoggi murder will be an issue, which we discuss with many of the partners who we will be meeting with.”

    The kingdom is a member of the G20, and the Saudi-owned television station Al-Arabiya says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s de facto leader, will attend the summit.

    U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    “Our intelligence agencies continue to assess all information, but it could very well be that the Crown Prince had knowledge of this tragic event — maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump said in a written statement.

    “That being said, we may never know all of the facts surrounding the murder of Mr. Jamal Khashoggi.”

    Regardless, Saudi Arabia remains a “steadfast” partner of the U.S. and has helped keep oil prices stable, Trump said. He also said he doesn’t want to jeopardize US$450 billion in Saudi investment in the U.S., including $110 billion to buy American-made military hardware.

    Trump said the U.S. has already sanctioned 17 Saudi individuals under its Magnitsky Act, and isn’t planning any further action.

    Freeland, meanwhile, has said Canada is contemplating similar sanctions, but she gave no indication why that has yet to happen or what is taking so long.

    A senior government official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the deliberations, said any decision on sanctions will be made by federal cabinet, and will be part of a larger process that will see Canada working in co-ordination with its allies.

    The process includes a consideration of sanctions, a co-ordinated push for an international investigation and an assessment of the Turkish recording of Khashoggi’s death, the official said.

    Freeland has not heard the recording, but has been briefed on its contents by the head of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, who travelled to Turkey to hear it, said the official.

    Mike Blanchfield, The Canadian Press



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    Ride-hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry

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  • VANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

    Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

    Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

    He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.

    Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

    He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.

    The Canadian Press


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