After one year of firing lawyers, self-representation and numerous other delays, one of the South Okanagan’s most notorious criminals has been acquitted of all charges.
Afshin Maleki Ighani, 48, who pleaded not guilty to 10 criminal offences including two counts of kidnapping using a firearm and assault with a weapon, was acquitted of all charges Friday afternoon in B.C. Supreme Court due to inconsistencies in statements by the case’s two alleged victims.
“I accept that it is certainly possible that Mr. Ighani committed some or all of the offences for which he is charged, (but) the standard of proof in criminal law is proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Judge Nita Iyer told the court.
Ighani was accused of having taken Jodie Walker and Christopher Gliege captive on April 22, 2017, after they agreed to give him a ride from Okanagan Falls to the Lower Mainland in exchange for $400.
At one point during the trip, Ighani was alleged to have ordered the vehicle be driven up a logging road between Manning Park and Princeton.
Around the six-kilometre mark, Ighani was said to have ordered they stop the vehicle, produced a gun and told Gliege to exit the car and begin digging.
Police were later able to find Ighani and Walker by tracking Walker’s cellphone, and a handgun was found under the hood of the vehicle.
Gliege had given testimony at a preliminary inquiry hearing in 2018, which was used by Crown counsel as evidence throughout Ighani’s trial.
Gliege is believed to have fled to the United States shortly after his testimony.
During her testimony, Walker maintained she did not recall the events of that day and even said she didn’t recognize herself in a video taken during her statement at the police station.
Iyer touched on several inconsistencies she found in Walker and Gliege’s evidence, including that they contradicted one another on key points such as who ordered Gliege out of the vehicle and whether or not Ighani pointed and shot a gun at Gliege.
“She and Mr. Gliege differed in their accounts of how many times Mr. Ighani fired the gun,” Iyer said.
Their testimonies, she added, only agreed on several parts of the story, which included the day they left for the Lower Mainland, where they were going, the type of vehicle being driven and the amount of money they were to be paid by Ighani.
Although acquitted of all charges, Ighani remains behind bars on separate charges, which allege he stabbed two inmates at the Okanagan Correctional Centre in 2017 and attacked a prison guard in 2018.
Ighani has a lengthy criminal record, having been sentenced in 2007 to 42 months in prison for his connection to a drug ring based in Oliver. The Iranian-born Ighani was twice ordered deported from Canada, but his departure was stayed because he faced the death penalty in his home country.