Ottawa gang members serving penitentiary sentences on fentanyl trafficking and other offences are already lining up to appeal their convictions following a recent judge’s decision to exclude key wiretap evidence from a separate trial.

In a decision Aug. 22 in the robbery and assault trial of Faysal Bashir and Said Muddei, Superior Court Justice Sylvia Corthorn ruled the charter rights of the two accused were breached by a sweeping authorization for wiretaps on local gang members who police believed had information on an unsolved 2009 homicide.

he decision is grounds for appeal, according to defence lawyer Michael Spratt and others involved in a previous trial for members of a fentanyl-trafficking ring known as The Fazeli Group, which was busted by a police anti-gang task force in 2017 using wiretaps authorized by the same affidavit that has now been ruled in violation of charter rights.

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Spratt led arguments in 2018 on behalf of Adnan “Ace” Fazeli, the group’s purported ringleader, though charges were eventually withdrawn against him, which Spratt called “delicious irony” considering prosecutors named the group after his client.

Others who were found guilty at trial, though, have already contacted his office to discuss a plan to appeal those convictions.

Spratt was blunt in his assessment of police tactics, calling the investigation “an unprecedented dragnet” that gathered no new evidence of the unsolved homicide, but instead amounted to broad surveillance on a number of “unrelated” criminal activities.

“Those wiretaps led directly to surveillance and the seizing of drugs. Without those intercepts, that the Superior Court has found were unconstitutional and excluded in the Bashir case, the Crown would not have had any reasonable prospect against anyone in the drug prosecution (against the Fazeli Group).”

Spratt said he expects each of those who were found guilty and convicted of various drug-trafficking charges will pursue an appeal.

“It was a widespread and still very concerning use of wiretaps on a very old murder, without grounds to gather intelligence in an unprecedented dragnet,” Spratt said. “I think, although (Brown) disagreed, it is an undue infringement on people’s privacy.”

Read Aedan Helmer’s full story: Ottawa Citizen

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