The man accused of killing 13-year-old Marrisa Shen appeared in Vancouver provincial court on Friday, represented by his new lawyer.
Ibrahim Ali, 28, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of the Burnaby teen, whose body was found in Central Park in July 2017.
Ali’s lawyer, Veen Aldosky, said court proceedings haven’t reached the bail hearing stage yet, with defence still waiting on thousands of pages of documents in disclosure.
“It’s a serious case, there’s significant disclosure, and until we have that, we can’t move forward in this case,” she said.
“I appreciate the interest, I understand it’s a very serious case, I understand the public wants questions, everybody involved wants to know what’s going on, and I want to know what’s going on because my client is in jail waiting for this material.”
Friday’s appearance drew a small crowd of supporters and protesters, though tempers were much cooler outside the court at previous appearances.
Holly Gu said she didn’t know the Shen family, but had travelled from Richmond to support them.
“We want to ask more people to pay attention to this family. They desperately need support and the strength for them to carry on,” Gu said.
“What we’re concerned most [about] is everyone’s safety and our family’s safety and our family’s future and Canada’s future. That’s why for this case, we want to stand by this family, Marrisa Shen’s family. They are the victim, no one else is the victim.”
Protesters carrying signs aimed at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government’s refugee program also stood outside the court.
Ali is a Syrian refugee who came to Canada in March 2017, and demonstrator Kat Broekhuizen argued his admittance to Canada illustrated the failure of the immigration system’s vetting process.
“Our children are at risk from irresponsible policies,” she said.
“There are many immigrants we talk to, they come from different countries and they want a better life and they want their children to be safe — and we want to welcome those people. We do not want to welcome people we know nothing about.”
Ali was charged with Shen’s murder in September after an investigation that lasted more than a year.
Police used a new and somewhat controversial “DNA dragnet” technique, after collecting DNA at the crime scene that indicated a suspect of Middle Eastern descent.
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