Crown aims to try four accused in Alberta border blockade case at once

·2 min read

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA — One of four men charged with conspiracy to commit murder at a border blockade protest in southern Alberta has run into a roadblock trying to set an early trial date.

Christopher Lysak, 48, previously waived his right to a preliminary hearing and elected to be tried by a judge and jury in the Court of Queen's Bench.

Lysak, who is also charged with uttering threats, possession of a weapon and mischief to property over $5000, was also denied bail.

Alias Sanders, acting on behalf of Lysak's lawyer, Jim Lutz, requested Monday that a trial date be set since Lysak remains in custody.

"He would like to set a date now," Sanders told Justice Robert Armstrong.

But Crown prosecutor Matt Dalidowicz opposed the move, saying the plan is to try Lysak, Chris Carbert, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin at the same time.

"The Crown anticipates joining Mr. Lysak with three other co-conspirators... all three of those individuals are still at provincial court," he said.

"The situation in provincial court is moving, and moving quickly, and we anticipate that in short order all of the accused will be on the same docket, at which time the Crown will make the application."

Lawyer Alain Hepner, who represents Olienick, is in the process of seeking a bail hearing for his client. That matter returns to court May 3.

A May 19 bail hearing is set for Carbert. His lawyer, Balfour Der, said Carbert will be pleading not guilty and seeking a judge and jury trial, but would also be requesting a preliminary inquiry.

Morin has a bail hearing June 24.

Sanders said a three-week trial is anticipated for Lysak and the earliest Lutz has time on his schedule is January of next year. She said Lysak is ready to go now.

"Mr. Lysak is detained and Mr. Lutz would like to set dates."

The judge expressed some concern about delays but agreed with the Crown's request and adjourned the caseto May 9.

"I agree with Mr. Dalidowicz's submissions that it will be a more efficient use of the court's time to have the application to join the matters prior to setting a trial date."

The protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions began at the U.S. border crossing near Coutts, Alta., in late January and lasted for almost three weeks.

Fourteen people were charged after RCMP found a cache of long guns, handguns, body armour, large amounts of ammunition and high-capacity magazines in three trailers.

Police allege a group at the protest was willing to use force if the blockade was disrupted and described the threat as "very serious."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 25, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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