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RCMP officers disguise themselves as tea merchants to prepare lifting DNA

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A portrait depicts Ibrahim Ali in court during his trial for first-degree murder in September 2023.

Radio-Canada

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Undercover police officers investigating the murder of a 13-year-old girl in British Columbia disguised themselves as tea sellers at a festival to secretly collect DNA from around 150 community members Kurdish.

This is what The Canadian Press revealed, which listened to months of recordings of preliminary hearings at trial of Ibrahim Ali, convicted of first degree murder in December 2023.

Officers handed out free tea samples during Burnaby's Kurdish New Year celebration in 2018. DNA was taken from numbered cups during the sting operation which identified the suspect's brother.

One ​​thing led to another, Ibrahim Ali was arrested. The identity of his victim is protected by a publication ban.

During preliminary hearings, Mr. Ali's lawyer criticized the sting operation and the targeting of the Kurdish community, but Judge Lance Bernard rejected the abuse of process claim in December 2022.

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Ibrahim Ali was scheduled to appear in British Columbia Supreme Court on Monday to set a sentencing date.

During his trial, he DNA from a cigarette butt discarded by Ibrahim Ali was understood to match that of semen found in the teen's body, which was discovered in Burnaby's Central Park in July 2017.

A request from his lawyers seeking full information about the sting operation was sealed by the court. No explanation has been offered for the fact that Mr. Ali was the subject of surveillance.

It is not known yet whether a warrant was requested or obtained to carry out this surveillance, and police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Ibrahim Ali was convicted of first-degree murder of a 13-year-old girl in July 2017.

According to police, the operation was launched when the DNA found on the victim's body showed markers corresponding to the Kurdish ethnic minority.

When a voluntary DNA search among Kurdish men failed to yield a breakthrough, police devised a new plan to obtain of DNA without permission: The secret collection of DNA during the Kurdish New Year celebration, called Newroz, at Barnet Marine Park in Burnaby on March 25, 2018.

However those who got free samples were not informed that the tea company was fake and that the whole process was designed solely to allow the police to obtain their DNA and identity .

In December 2022, Crown attorney Daniel Porte told the court that 150 cups were taken during the party.

Once the DNA was confirmed by a US laboratory that performed better than those in Canada, police identified Syrian refugee Ibrahim Ali as being linked to the crime. She then began surveillance which resulted in the seizure of the cigarette butt on August 24, 2018 and her arrest a week later.

Meghan McDermott, director of standards for the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, said she was stunned to learn of the operation. She describes as unacceptable and reprehensible the fact that the police did not potentially obtain a warrant to carry out this strategist.

It's disappointing and worrying that we have found a creative way – which the police probably say they are very proud of – to violate the rights of so many people.

A quote from Meghan McDermott, British Columbia Civil Liberties Association

David Eby, the Premier of British Columbia, said that he supported the police's actions, saying he had a really hard time accepting the idea that the police shouldn't have done it.

He added that the victim's rights were profoundly and unalterably violated by her killer and that the actions of the police protected the community from a predator.

Ibrahim Ali's lawyers filed a notice of appeal on December 11. They did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

With the information from The Canadian Press

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