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Trial for accused in Toronto van attack delayed to March 2 due to “red tape”


December 17, 2019
By The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Red tape has delayed the trial for a man who killed 10 people when he drove a van into crowds of pedestrians on a busy Toronto sidewalk in 2018, court heard Monday.

The murder trial for Alek Minassian, which was initially scheduled to begin on Feb. 10, will now start on March 2.

Boris Bytensky, Minassian’s lawyer, told the judge the delay is due to problems obtaining Minassian’s psychiatric assessment from St. Joseph’s Health Centre.

“We’re running up against red tape and being told different things by different departments,” Bytensky said to Justice Anne Molloy.

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Bytensky said the hospital told him Minassian’s file “was misplaced then relocated.”

The news angered the judge, who will preside over the trial without a jury.

“I’d like you to convey that if it’s not here this week, I am quite prepared to issue a subpoena to them to come here and explain why they have not done it,” Molloy said to Bytensky.

Minassian faces 10 counts of first-degree murder and 16 counts of attempted murder in connection with the April 23, 2018, attack.

He told police shortly after the attack that he carried it out in retribution for years of sexual rejection and ridicule by women.

Molloy said the case will turn on Minassian’s state of mind at the time of the attack, not whether he did it.

Bytensky told court computer-related issues are also holding the trial up.

A few weeks ago, he told the judge his client’s heavily encrypted devices were not easy to comb through, even with a password.

He said software available to his computer expert is not as powerful as those available to police, and compared the forensic analyses of Minassian’s phones and computers to “looking for needles in lots of different haystacks.”

Minassian’s devices have given the Crown problems since shortly after the attack, according to documents filed in court. Court has heard that police have not been able to crack Minassian’s devices.

On Monday, Minassian relented and gave the Crown his passwords.

Crown attorney Joe Callaghan agreed the computer issues and problems getting the psychiatric report have held up the case.

“It’s just not realistic to start on the date that we have,” Callaghan said, referring to Feb. 10.

Minassian will next appear in court on Jan. 16.

— Liam Casey

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc. 2019