Some evidence collected in what was the biggest ecstasy bust to date in this province can’t be used in the case due to breaches in the Charter of Rights.
The decision came down from Newfoundland Supreme Court Justice James Adams last week. The original case involves Hassan Kamel Al-Ameri and Mahmood Ahmed Alsaihati, both 24, and both charged with possession of ecstasy and possession for the purpose of trafficking.
In 2009, the pair wwas arrested at a St. Clare Avenue apartment in St. John’s. The bust was said to have netted 15,000 pills, cocaine, marijuana and about $4,000 cash.
Adams’ ruling involves only Al-Ameri.
The judge found that the RCMP had seriously breached the Charter of Rights and Freedoms through its use of force and by arresting Al-Ameri without a warrant.
Consequently, Adams ruled that drugs discovered at the Al-Ameri residence — said in the court documents to include, but not be limited to, two grams of cocaine, a small quantity of marijuana, a small quantity of ecstasy powder, an opened box containing three ecstasy pills, documents, vacuum-seal bags, cellphones, a sheet of names and numbers, money, scales and computer equipment — should be excluded from the evidence.
Al-Ameri had not only applied for the exclusion of the evidence, but also a stay of proceedings — stopping further legal process in a trial.
Adams, however, says in the court documents that despite the breach of Al-Ameri’s rights, there are no grounds for the trial to be halted.
Court documents obtained by The Telegram show that the RCMP suspected Al-Ameri of receiving illegal drugs through the mail. The police had intercepted a package that was addressed to Al-Ameri’s address, but not to him personally.
The package was found to have a large number of ecstasy pills. The police then requested a warrant that would allow them to secure Al-Ameri’s apartment, arrest him and search the residence. They also requested a tracking warrant that would allow them a controlled delivery of the package to Al-Ameri’s residence.
It was later disclosed that the information the police had on Al-Ameri was dated and came almost exclusively from a single-source drug user with a criminal record who had claimed Al-Ameri carried guns.
The person was paid for the information.
Al-Ameri did not have a criminal record at the time and the RCMP did not receive a warrant for his arrest.
The RCMP employed what is described in the court documents as a “hard entry” into Al-Ameri’s apartment. They used a stun grenade to disorient anyone who may have been in the apartment with a bright flash of light and loud sounds.
“They stormed the residence in riot gear, including balaclavas, and wielding M16 and MP5 automatic rifles. They physically forced the occupants of the house to the floor on their stomachs, tied their hands behind their backs and forced their feet up towards their buttocks,” the court document reads.