The mother of a 13-year-old girl found murdered in a park in Burnaby, B.C., has requested a Mandarin translator so she can understand court proceedings, and a judge has recommended the province fund that request.
The mother’s lawyer, Esther Kornfeld, told court her client’s friend translated proceedings last month after a man accused of the crime made his first appearance.
Ibrahim Ali, 28, was back in court Friday, but Marrisa Shen’s mother wasn’t in the gallery that was packed with people supporting the family of the girl who was found dead in a wooded area of Central Park on July 19, 2017.
Provincial court Judge Harbans Dhillon told Kornfeld she didn’t know if she could “bind the hands of the minister” who could consider providing funding for a court-certified translator.
The Attorney General’s Ministry did not immediately respond with a request for comment.
Kornfeld said Shen’s mother, who does not want her name publicized, has a restraining order against her ex-husband, her daughter’s father, and would like her privacy respected in court by having sheriffs alerted to his presence.
Dhillon said she would not entertain the request.
Ali, a Syrian national who stood inside a glassed-off area as an Arabic translator interpreted the proceedings, is scheduled to return to court Nov. 23 to allow the prosecution time to put together disclosure material.
Crown counsel Daniel Porte said 10,000 pages of material has been compiled.
Ali was arrested on Sept. 7, two weeks after the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said it became aware of him as a suspect. He is facing a first-degree murder charge.
Police have said Ali came to Canada as a refugee about three months before Shen was killed and that he is a permanent resident with a job and family in the country.
Outside court, supporters of Shen’s family lined the street calling for justice as they held signs reading “No bail, no more victims” and “Comprehensive security screening now.”
Xiy Yan Zhou said she came to stand outside court in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside from her home in suburban Maple Ridge because she wants her 13-year-old niece to feel safe in her community.
“I need to be here because I want her to grow up in safety and peace,” she said, standing near a large photo of Shen alongside about two dozen others.
Jeff Jiang of Vancouver said he has supported Shen’s mother throughout her ordeal and saw her last week.
He said the woman moved from Burnaby and is now living elsewhere with a friend.
“She sold her apartment because it’s a sad place,” Jiang said.
He said the girl’s mother is financially strapped because she is no longer able to work at her job at a grocery store.
Shen was last seen on security video entering a Tim Hortons a few minutes after she left her home at 6 p.m., on July 18, 2017. Her mother reported her missing at 11:30 p.m., and the girl’s body was found by police about 90 minutes later.
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