A British Columbia Supreme Court judge has ruled that Ibrahim Ali should be removed from the forensic psychiatric hospital where he has been held throughout his first-degree murder trial.
Justice Lance Bernard ruled that Ali, who was convicted last month of murdering a 13-year-old girl, will be returned to the North Fraser pretrial detention centre where he was held before his trial.
Bernard says Ali will remain at the centre until his sentencing, which is an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Ali appeared by video from the hospital on Friday with a different haircut, his hair shaved along the side of his head, and he seemed in good spirits, smiling and laughing occasionally.
Bernard said in his ruling that Ali’s psychiatrist believes the man no longer needs to be detained at the hospital as he has “improved dramatically,” and there is no evidence that he is suffering from an underlying psychotic illness.
Bernard told the court the doctor’s notes also say that Ali has a “friendly and co-operative manner” and his English has improved significantly, allowing him to communicate any concerns he has to hospital staff.
On April 11, the judge granted an assessment of Ali’s fitness for trial after his defence lawyer said his client did not understand the point or consequences of the proceedings.
The court received the assessment on April 25, where the attending psychiatrist concluded Ali was “fit but fragile.” The trial continued, with Ali detained at the forensic psychiatric hospital when he wasn’t in court.
In his submissions before the ruling, Crown lawyer Daniel Porte noted that a letter from the psychiatrist on Jan. 10 said the reason for Ali’s detention at the hospital was so that he could continue taking anti-anxiety medication to address tension headaches and so his treatment was monitored.
“He now only takes some pain medication as needed. Those medications are available in the pretrial facility,” Porte said, before suggesting a return to the pretrial centre.
Tim Russell, who is standing in for Ali’s trial lawyers, opposed the change as instructed by his colleagues, but did not expand on reasons.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 26, 2024.