Dutch court reverses refusal to delay trial of accused in Amanda Todd case

The case of Aydin Coban, implicated in the suicide of B.C. teen Amanda Todd, will go to trial in the Netherlands sometime after the summer

VANCOUVER – A Dutch trial has been pushed back again for a man charged with child pornography and extortion involving 39 people and who is implicated in the suicide of British Columbia teenager Amanda Todd.

The court had pledged to forge ahead on Friday, saying any further delays would be difficult on the alleged victims.

Instead, Aydin Coban’s case will go to trial in the Netherlands sometime after the summer, said Elsbeth Kleibeuker, a spokeswoman for the National Prosecutor’s Service.

Coban’s current counsel, Robert Malewicz, quit on Friday when the Amsterdam court refused to grant him additional time to ready his defence. The court recanted that decision on Monday.

“If you give a lawyer one month to prepare himself for this whole case, which includes 25,000 pages (of documents), what would you expect?” said Coban’s previous lawyer, Christian van Dijk, who still follows the proceedings closely.

“Coban has the right to have a fair trial and you cannot have a fair trial without a lawyer.”

None of the allegations against him have been proven in court.

Coban also faces extradition to Canada on five charges connected to Todd, who killed herself in October 2012 after being bullied over nude photos posted through social media by an online harasser.

It’s uncertain how the delay will affect timing of the extradition hearing, which is scheduled to begin June 14.

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But Justice Department spokesman Andrew Gowing said in an email that an extradition order, if granted, would not be executed before the criminal trial in the Netherlands concluded.

Canada’s interests are being represented by the Dutch government, as per the countries’ extradition treaty, he added.

“The time it takes to complete the extradition process varies greatly depending on the details of each case,” Gowing said.

“Over the past decade, most requests have taken between six and 20 months from the time the prosecutors have decided to seek an extradition, to the time the fugitive is returned to Canada.”

With a postponement allowed, Malewicz will once again defend Coban in the criminal proceedings, said Kleibeuker in an email.

The court was unable to find a lawyer to act as a “process-monitoring guard,” she wrote, which on Friday it had said it would do should Coban be unable to find legal representation by this week.

Van Dijk said he wasn’t surprised at the lack of interest from other lawyers in taking on the file with so little time to prepare.

“It’s such a big case and nobody wants to burn his fingers on a case like this,” he said. “How can you prepare yourself as a lawyer?

“You swear an oath to do only cases which you believe in and in which you can do your utmost, but you cannot do your utmost in a case you do not know.”

It’s likely Coban will remain in custody until criminal proceedings begin later this year, van Dijk said.

Todd’s death has had a far-reaching impact in Canada. It helped spur the Canadian government to introduce anti-bullying legislation, which came into effect in March 2015 and made it a crime to distribute intimate images without consent.

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