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Vancouver judge imposes media ban on immigration fraud, sexual assault case

Judge Reginald Harris agreed to extend media bans to protect the rights of the accused and to control the court's process.
Provincial Court Of British Columbia.| photo Cindy Goodman, North Shore News

The lawyer of a Vancouver man accused of sexually assaulting, concealing and illegally employing two women at an immigration service office has been granted a wide-ranging ban on a pre-trial application.

A Vancouver Provincial Court judge agreed to the ban extensions on Jan. 4 in order to control the court process and protect the rights of Alex Jones, the accused, before his case moves to trial in B.C. Supreme Court.

Jones allegedly coerced an Iranian woman to come to Vancouver. She and another woman were then allegedly sexually assaulted, concealed and illegally employed at an immigration service office. A publication ban covers their names.

Jones, also known as Abolfazi Jafari, is facing seven charges, including:

• allegedly sexually assaulting one woman in August 2019;

• allegedly sexually assaulting another woman in August and September 2019;

• allegedly organizing the coming to Canada of the first woman in August 2016 through fraud, deception or coercion contrary to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act;

• allegedly recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing or harbouring both women and controlling their movements for their exploitation between August 2019 and May 2020, and;

• allegedly inducing or abetting Alex Visa Immigration Services Inc. to employ both women in positions for which they were not authorized under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

All offences are alleged to have taken place in Vancouver.

Defence lawyer Michael Bloom was preparing to make an application before Judge Reginald Harris when he asked for a further publication ban other than those already in place that cover bail proceedings and the identity of the women.

Crown prosecutor Alan Ip told Harris that there was no specific provision in the Criminal Code “to permit an application of this sort.”

Ip said it is a practice in B.C. Supreme Court to give media notice of such applications to media outlets that can speak to the court in such cases.

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