The RCMP has obtained a warrant to obtain a blood sample from a man accused of several violent crimes in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, potentially leading to charter issues in one of his trials.
Afshin Maleki Ighani was first arrested in Princeton in April last year after a region-wide manhunt was conducted when he was accused of shooting Thomas Szajko in Oliver.
Though attempted murder charges were later dropped after Szajko died of unrelated causes, Ighani still faces charges for allegedly kidnapping a woman while he eluded police, as well as firearms charges.
In a pre-trial conference last week, Crown lawyer John Swanson told the court police had found a firearm in the engine compartment of the vehicle Ighani had been driving up to his arrest.
“In due course, the police forensic identification section took swabs from that handgun. Those swabs were then sent to the RCMP lab for analysis, and a partial — partial — DNA profile was developed from those swabs,” Swanson said.
“It’s my understanding that the police did not follow up on that, however, and did not until very recently — and when I say recently, I think it may have happened last week — obtained a provincial court order for a blood sample from Mr. Ighani … and compare it with that profile.”
In a previous pre-trial conference, just a week prior, lawyer Michael Patterson advised the court that he had been removed from Ighani’s file, and that Paul McMurray from Burnaby had taken it over. That had caused some concern of trial delay from the court, with the trial set for June 4.
In court last week, McMurray appeared by phone and told the court he did not have any expectation of any delays. But Swanson suggested that the DNA order, of which McMurray was not aware, may incur a charter challenge from the defence.
Swanson said he did not know when the DNA order is expected to be completed. McMurray said he did not know whether a potentially arising charter complaint might delay the trial without receiving the full disclosure on that DNA order from the Crown.
The Crown also pointed to issues of its own — a witness who had to be ordered to testify in a preliminary inquiry may not be so willing to testify in trial, Swanson said. That could lead to an application from the Crown to admit that witness’s statements from the preliminary inquiry or police statements, which is considered to be a far less credible statement than sworn testimony in trial.
In an apparent reference to fresh charges laid against Ighani late last month for allegedly assaulting an Okanagan Correctional Centre correctional officer, McMurray also noted Ighani “may have outstayed his welcome” at OCC.
Ighani has been between OCC and the North Fraser Pretrial Centre, according to McMurray, who asked the judge to recommend Ighani be detained in the Surrey Pretrial Services Centre at least until close to trial. That, he said, was so he did not have to travel so much to speak to Ighani as he builds his case.
For that incident at OCC, which reportedly occurred on March 14, Ighani is facing a count of assaulting a peace officer.
He is also facing two counts each of assault causing bodily harm and assault with a weapon for allegedly stabbing two inmates in protective custody in OCC last September.