HALIFAX – A judge will rule later this month on whether to commit a former Halifax taxi driver to stand trial for sexual assault, as he awaits the continuation of his high-profile retrial in a separate sex assault allegation.
Crown and defence lawyers made legal arguments on Tuesday in Halifax provincial court in an alleged 2012 incident involving Bassam Al-Rawi. Judge Amy Sakalauskas reserved her decision until Feb. 21.
Police had decided in March 2013 there was insufficient evidence to charge Al-Rawi, but they took another look at the file in 2017 and decided there were grounds for a sexual assault charge.
There is a publication ban in place on the evidence that was presented at the preliminary inquiry, which began Monday.
Al-Rawi is also facing a retrial on a charge of sexual assault in connection with a separate incident in May 2015, after an unconscious woman was found in the back seat of a cab naked from the waist down.
Al-Rawi’s retrial was ordered after an acquittal was overturned in January 2018 by the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal.
The retrial got underway last month, and is expected to continue April 15. The acquittal, after the judge found there was no evidence of lack of consent, drew national attention.
Judge Gregory Lenehan’s comment in his decision that “clearly, a drunk can consent” sparked a debate over intoxication and the capacity to consent to sex.
An independent judicial review committee last year dismissed several complaints against Lenehan, saying it found no evidence of impermissible reasoning or bias in his ruling.
But the appeal court ordered a new criminal trial, saying Lenehan erred in law by finding there was no evidence of lack of consent.