A hearing for a man suspected in a string of violent sexual offences was delayed by several hours Wednesday after a translator failed to show up.
When the case of Sofyan Boalag was called in provincial court in St. John’s in the morning, Crown prosecutor Kathleen O’Reilly and defence lawyer Tim O’Brien were ready to argue a Charter application. However, proceedings could not begin without the Arabic translator for Boalag, who is originally from Algeria. Several attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.
As a result, the court had to postpone the case until the afternoon to arrange to have an interpreter from Halifax appear via videolink.
The hearing is scheduled to continue today.
Boalag is accused of sexually assaulting five women and one teenage girl in 2012 in St. John’s. The 33-year-old has pleaded not guilty to more than a dozen charges, including sexual assault with a weapon, sexual assault causing bodily harm and sexual interference, robbery, carrying a concealed weapon and possessing stolen property.
He was picked up by police on Dec. 1, 2012, shortly after reports that a man had sexually assaulted women as they were walking home from the downtown area towards the city centre at night. Other charges were laid in relation to reports he sexually assaulted a girl younger than 16 with a piece of wood in the LeMarchant Road area. Since his arrest, his case has seen several delays, mainly at the request of the defence.
Even after Boalag was denied bail on the first set of charges two weeks after his arrest, he insisted on having a second bail hearing a few months later after more charges were laid.
He even tried to get the judge hearing the case removed. His lawyers filed an application to have Judge Pamela Goulding recuse herself on the basis there was a reasonable apprehension of bias, since her husband, Chief Justice Mark Pike, had issued the search warrants during the investigation. That application was denied.