Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and Gerhard Janzen have each pleaded innocent to mischief over $5,000.

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The Canadian Press

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Released Apr 03, 20243 minute checked out

Anti-COVID-19 vaccine required demonstrators leave in a truck convoy after obstructing the highway at the hectic U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022.
Anti-COVID-19 vaccine required demonstrators leave in a truck convoy after obstructing the highway at the hectic U.S. border crossing in Coutts, Alta., Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022. Picture by Jeff McIntosh /The Canadian Press

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA– A Crown district attorney stated Wednesday that the trial for 3 guys charged over their functions in an Alberta border blockade 2 years earlier has absolutely nothing to do with their beliefs or right to demonstration.

Marco Van Huigenbos, Alex Van Herk and Gerhard Janzen have each pleaded innocent to mischief over $5,000.

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District attorney Steven Johnston informed the jury in his opening declaration that the 3 played a “essential function” in obstructing the highway at Canada-U.S. border at Coutts, Alta., in 2022.

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The demonstration over COVID-19 pandemic health limitations ground traffic to a stop at Alberta’s primary border crossing with Montana.

“Many individuals were impacted by COVID-19 and reactions to it. This prosecution is not about that,” Johnston stated.

“This trial is not about individuals’s individual sensations about COVID. This is not a trial about the right to demonstration.”

Johnston stated an individual can not block making use of a highway in order to attain an objective.

“The Crown does not declare that these 3 males before you dedicated a single act of violence,” he stated.

“What the Crown declares is that they, as part of a bigger group, hindered making use of a big highway in southern Alberta for around 2 weeks. Efficiently, they had actually gotten a control valve on Highway 4, the highway that comes from the province.”

The district attorney stated proof will reveal the 3 guys were leaders of the blockade and had last word over what took place. After 15 days, a video message the males published online achieved what Mounties might not.

In the video played in court, Van Huigenbos and Van Herk recommendation other blockade arrests, in addition to the seizure of numerous weapons, and advise an end to the demonstration.

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“We, as the Coutts convoy, have actually chosen– as a serene demonstration and to keep that story– we will be presenting tomorrow early morning,” Van Huigenbos states in the video.

“We wish to cover this up in a tranquil method, and we thank everyone for all their assistance.”

Johnston informed court the demonstration ended a brief time after.

“They were the group that had the capability to shut off and on the blockade,” Johnston stated.

Jim Willett, the previous mayor of Coutts, was called as the very first witness in the trial.

Willett affirmed Coutts is the only 24-hour crossing to the U.S. from Alberta and a hectic path for truckers and travelers.

“There’s actually numerous countless dollars of commerce that go through every year,” Willett stated.

“This highway is a significant commerce road. If you shut that down, you closed down all the commerce.”

Willett stated he called authorities when he began seeing posts that a convoy was coming through Coutts, a town of about 200.

“There might be a great deal of complete strangers, lock your doors and keep your kids off the street,” he stated he informed locals.

“At the start, it was a relatively rowdy scenario and not a great deal of method.”

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Willett stated he was worried about the convoy impacting citizens’ access to supermarket and medical centers outside Coutts, given that the town does not have those services.

He stated he met among the blockade organizers at Smugglers, a previous bar utilized as an event point for the protesters.

Willett wished to learn what their strategy was and for how long they would remain in his neighborhood.

“There was little I might do. As a town mayor, I do not have a great deal of authority,” he stated.

Justice Keith Yamauchi informed the jury that the implicated are presumed innocent up until tested guilty beyond an affordable doubt.

“You are the judges of the realities … not attorneys, not private investigators,” Yamauchi stated.

“It is very important that you not form your viewpoints before you hear all the proof.”

Willett was arranged to respond to concerns from the defence throughout interrogation Thursday.

The trial is set up to run up until April 19.

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