August 21, 2014 5:11 pm

Man accused of stabbing wife, friend to death still needs lawyer

CALGARY- The man accused of stabbing his ex-wife and her friend to death is still trying to get a lawyer to defend him.

Hari Pal was charged with two counts of second-degree murder back in May, in connection with the deaths of his estranged wife Sanjula Devi and her friend Fahmida Velji Visram. The women were killed when they went back to Devi’s Penbrooke home to retrieve belongings.

Pal is set to go on trial, but still doesn’t have a lawyer and was turned down by Legal Aid.

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“He doesn’t have a lawyer because he’s unable to afford one at this stage,” explains lawyer Andre Ouellette, who is working to get Pal funding for legal counsel. He hopes a similar situation will help his case.

“There’s a case from Ontario called Rowbotham that gives the jurisdiction to the courts to force the government to appoint counsel when they feel it’s necessary, to enhance the administration of justice and ensure fairness.”

However, Alberta Justice isn’t budging on their decision.

“A lawyer has been appointed by Alberta Justice, a civil lawyer, to fight the application,” Ouellette says. “Now you have the government in a position not to fund the accused, but is also prepared to pay for counsel to fight it.”

Alberta Justice maintains they use in-house lawyers, and say a hearing needs to happen to ensure the case meets proper criteria for state funded counsel.

A judge could then order Alberta Justice to pay, or stay the charges. Pal may also end up having to defend himself.

 

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