Ibrahim Ali seeks to attend sentencing by video as lawyer cites safety concerns

A defence lawyer for Ibrahim Ali, who was convicted of first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl in Burnaby, B.C., says the man wants to appear at his sentencing hearing by video over fear for his safety. 

Kevin McCollough told a B.C. Supreme Court judge that Ali’s attendance in person poses “real safety issues” and he’s prepared to file additional affidavits to support the defence position.

Ali’s defence has previously told the court that the victim’s father brought a gun to court on the day Ali was convicted, and while no charges were laid, the father was issued a five-year weapons ban in a Surrey court this month after two licensed guns were seized from his home.

McCullough told the court that if his client is compelled to attend the sentencing in person, he will attend remotely because he’s “certainly not going to be (caught) in the gunfire.”

He told the judge that he can’t believe the Crown’s position that Ali must attend in person, given what they know has occurred.

The body of the girl – whose name is protected by a publication ban — was found in Burnaby’s Central Park in July 2017 and Ali was arrested the following year.

A jury took less than 24 hours to reach its guilty verdict at the end of the eight-month trial last December.

Ali faces a mandatory life term with no chance of parole for 25 years.

Prosecutor Isobel Keeley says the Crown is opposed to Ali attending his sentencing remotely, and the Criminal Code indicates such an appearance should be in person unless the defence and Crown agree on an alternative with the court’s approval.

Keeley says members of the murdered girl’s family will be travelling from China to attend, and she expects they will deliver three separate victim impact statements.

She says one of those will be a video recording from the victim’s father reading his statement in Mandarin, with a translated copy to be read aloud in English.

Another hearing is scheduled Friday to confirm the sentencing dates.