Court or­ders men­tal-health as­sess­ment

Edmonton Journal - - FRONT PAGE - PAIGE PAR­SONS ppar­sons@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/paigeepar­sons

A man ac­cused in a vi­o­lent at­tack in cen­tral Ed­mon­ton will be as­sessed for his fit­ness to stand trial and for crim­i­nal re­spon­si­bil­ity, a provin­cial court judge or­dered Tues­day.

Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif is the lone sus­pect in a Sept. 30 ram­page that in­cluded an at­tack on a po­lice of­fi­cer and four pedes­tri­ans.

De­fence lawyer Karan­pal Au­jla asked the court for the as­sess­ments, say­ing he had “sig­nif­i­cant” con­cerns about Sharif ’s men­tal health.

A fit­ness-to-stand-trial as­sess­ment de­ter­mines whether a per­son is able to un­der­stand and par­tic­i­pate in a court process — a case could be ad­journed if the ac­cused is found un­fit, but con­tin­ued at a later time if they be­come well.

The not crim­i­nally re­spon­si­ble as­sess­ment de­ter­mines if at the time of the of­fence, the per­son had the ca­pac­ity to un­der­stand his or her ac­tions, to know right from wrong, or had the abil­ity to con­trol his or her be­hav­iour.

Dur­ing the brief hear­ing Tues­day, Sharif ap­peared by video con­fer­ence from the Ed­mon­ton Re­mand Cen­tre. He ap­peared to lis­ten calmly to the pro­ceed­ings, nod­ding as a Somali in­ter­preter re­peated what the lawyers and judges were say­ing.

Sharif, 30, faces five counts of at­tempted mur­der in con­nec­tion with a ram­page where a car struck Ed­mon­ton po­lice Const. Mike Ch­ernyk, who was then stabbed, and a rented U-Haul truck ran down four pedes­tri­ans near Jasper Av­enue.

Sharif is also charged with four counts of dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle caus­ing bod­ily harm while try­ing to evade po­lice, and one count each of dan­ger­ous op­er­a­tion of a mo­tor ve­hi­cle and pos­ses­sion of a weapon for a dan­ger­ous pur­pose.

Speak­ing out­side the court­house, Au­jla said the case re­mains in the “pre­lim­i­nary” stages.

“From a re­view of the ini­tial dis­clo­sure, it ap­pears to me that there cer­tainly may be is­sues that per­tain to men­tal health,” Au­jla said. “I think it’s in every­one’s best in­ter­est to ac­tu­ally know what the ex­tent of that is.”

Au­jla said some of his con­cerns stem from con­ver­sa­tions with a per­son who is “fa­mil­iar” with Sharif.

Au­jla said he will likely wait for the re­sults of the men­tal health as­sess­ments be­fore de­ter­min­ing if he will seek a bail hear­ing for his client.

The case has been ad­journed un­til Dec. 13.

Though Ed­mon­ton Po­lice Chief Rod Knecht ini­tially said that Sharif was also ar­rested un­der ter­ror­ism of­fences, no such charges have been filed.

IAN KUCERAK/FILES

Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif, 30, is the sole sus­pect in a Sept. 30 in­ci­dent in which a city po­lice of­fi­cer was run down and stabbed and four pedes­tri­ans were struck by a rented U-Haul truck near Jasper Av­enue. Sharif is be­ing as­sessed for his fit­ness to stand trial on sev­eral charges.

Ab­du­lahi Hasan Sharif

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