Murder case against Ibrahim Alahmad going directly to N.L. Supreme Court

Ibrahim Alahmad of St. John's, who is originally from Syria, is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the death of a mother of five children on March 5. (Ibrahim Al Ahmad/Facebook - image credit)
Ibrahim Alahmad of St. John's, who is originally from Syria, is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in connection with the death of a mother of five children on March 5. (Ibrahim Al Ahmad/Facebook - image credit)

The case against a St. John's man accused of killing a mother of five children four months ago will go directly to trial in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court, without a preliminary inquiry.

Ibrahim Alahmad, 36 who has been in custody since early March, is now scheduled to be arraigned at N.L. Supreme Court on Sept. 9, when he may enter a plea on charges of first-degree murder and kidnapping. A bail hearing will also be considered.

Crown prosecutor Kellie Cullihall told Judge Pamela Goulding in St. John's provincial court Friday morning that Attorney General John Hogan had signed off on what's called a direct indictment, which allows the waiving of a preliminary inquiry. Preliminary inquiries allow prosecutors to test the strength of their case before a judge, and determine whether it should proceed to trial at a superior court.

Outside the courtroom, Cullihall told CBC News the direct indictment approach is a uncommon but a "significant step" in the case against Alahmad and will help ensure the proper administration of justice in a death that shocked the province, especially the Syrian community, in March.

"This is the most serious charge someone can face in Canada," said Cullihall.

Direct indictments are used when there are serious violations of the law and there's public interest to take such an approach, and must be approved by the attorney general or deputy attorney general.

The woman's body was discovered at this abandoned property on Liam Drive, say police.
The woman's body was discovered at this abandoned property on Liam Drive, say police.

The woman's body was discovered at this abandoned property on Liam Drive in Outer Cove. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

Cullihall wouldn't go into detail, but the Public Prosecution Service of Canada website gives a list of reasons for a direct indictment. Among them: witnesses being threatened or in poor health, the prosecution's resources being unreasonably strained by a preliminary inquiry, or the violation of an accused's right to have their case heard within a reasonable amount of time due to a delay linked to a preliminary inquiry.

Friday's proceedings were translated into Arabic for Alahmad by an interpreter, and the accused acknowledged his understanding on three occasions. Alahmad has been in custody at Her Majesty's Penitentiary in St. John's since his arrest on March 5.

Cullihall told the court Friday that nearly all of the evidence against Alahmad has been turned over to defence counsel Jason Edwards.

Alahmad appeared before the court via teleconference, wearing a dark shirt and orange pants.

The victim's identity cannot be revealed because of a publication ban. She was last seen in the Virginia Park area of St. John's on the morning of March 5. Her body was discovered a few hours later at an abandoned house on Liam Drive, a secluded grave road in Outer Cove.

Alahmad was arrested later that day.

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