WINNIPEG — A Manitoba judge has delayed Peter Nygard’s bail – a move Nygard’s lawyers claim is playing ‘Russian Roulette’ with his health, given the outbreak of COVID-19 in Manitoba correctional centres.
The bail hearing comes after Nygard was arrested by RCMP officers in Winnipeg on Dec. 14. He was arrested under Section 13 of the Extradition Act, and has been indicted by authorities in the United States. Nygard applied for bail in late December.
On Wednesday, Scott Farlinger, who is representing the Attorney General of Canada, requested the court adjourn Nygard’s bail hearing by a few days.
He told Justice Theodor Bock of Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench that documents have been provided as recently as Tuesday morning, and said counsel needed time to review the files and examine witnesses.
Since Nygard’s arrest in December, he has been in remand – something his counsel claims is putting his life at risk.
He appeared in court on Wednesday via video conference from the Headingley Correctional Centre. The former fashion mogul sat in a small room, wearing a face mask with his hair tied into a bun.
Nygard’s lawyer, Jay Prober argued COVID-19 is “rampant” at the Headingley Correctional Centre where he said Nygard is ‘languishing’ while he awaits trial.
According to provincial data, there were five active cases of COVID-19 within the Headingley Correctional Centre as of Wednesday.
Prober said denying or delaying bail to Nygard, “puts his life at risk.”
“An adjournment in this matter would fly in the face of any concept of fairness and justice,” Prober told the court on Wednesday.
“To adjourn the matter without even getting started today would be grossly unfair and grossly unjust.”
Nygard’s co-counsel Richard Wolson said an affidavit signed by a doctor and submitted to the court in December, claims to delay the bail hearing would be playing “Russian Roulette with his health” saying Nygard, who is 79 years old, is a “prime candidate” to contract COVID-19.
Bock granted the adjournment to Nygard’s bail hearing. The next appearance for Nygard’s bail hearing is scheduled for Jan. 19.
Nygard is facing a slew of charges in the Southern District of New York including racketeering conspiracy, sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, and two counts of transportation for purpose of prostitution.
The charges have not been proven in court.
Nygard has been accused of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking in a class-action lawsuit by 57 women, two of whom allege they were as young as 14 at the time. The class-action was stayed in August.
Two of Nygard’s sons also alleged in a separate lawsuit that they were statutorily raped as teenagers at his direction.
Nygard’s lawyers have denied all the claims in the lawsuits against him.
Prober told the court on Wednesday that Nygard’s case has created a “media frenzy.”
“It’s generated basically a lynch-mob atmosphere, which we know the court will not buy into,” he said.
His extradition case is scheduled to return to the Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench on Jan. 13.
-With files from The Canadian Press’ Kelly Geraldine Malone and CTV’s Josh Crabb, Jill Macyshon, and Charles Lefebvre.
This is a developing story. More to come.
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