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Adjournment for 4 Alberta border protesters charged with conspiracy to commit murder

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LETHBRIDGE – Four men charged with conspiracy to commit murder after arrests at last month’s border blockade in southern Alberta made brief court appearances Tuesday.

Christopher Lysak, 48, is also charged with uttering threats, possession of a weapon and mischief to property over $5,000.

He had already been denied bail.

Lysak — along with Chris Carbert, Anthony Olienick and Jerry Morin — is to return to Lethbridge provincial court on March 28.

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Defence lawyers requested the two-week adjournment and there was no objection from the prosecution.

“The Crown wants them all kept together,” said prosecutor Steve Johnston.

Bail hearings for Lysak’s three co-accused haven’t been held yet.

The protest against COVID-19 vaccine mandates and other pandemic restrictions went on for almost three weeks on the U.S. border near Coutts, Alta.

Thirteen people were charged after RCMP found a cache of long guns, handguns, body armour, large amounts of ammunition and high-capacity magazines in three trailers.

Two tactical vests seized displayed badges, which the Canadian Anti-Hate Network said have links to troubling movements. One vest had a “Diagolon” patch on it, a white diagonal line across a black rectangle, which the network has said is linked to an often conspiratorial and antisemitic group.

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Police said the threat was “very serious” and the group was willing to use force if the blockade was disrupted.

Outside court Tuesday, about 20 people gathered in support of the accused who are still in custody and others who had been charged. Some were waving Canadian flags while others carried signs that read “Drop the charges,” “Scapegoat tactics are an abuse of the law” and “Truckers exposed Ottawa’s tyranny.”

Tony Hall, who found the group We the People YQL, decried “this effort to criminalize the Coutts 13 and treat them as terrorists and people who are so reprehensible.”

“It’s really ruthless the way the effort is to build up this image.”

Hall, a former University of Lethbridge professor, helped form We the People, which began as a group protesting pandemic restrictions. Its website says it continues to fight to preserve people’s fundamental charter rights.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2022.

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