The four people accused of 21 combined charges of break-and-enter and criminal mischief at an Abbotsford hog farm will appear for a 10-day pretrial hearing starting on Monday (March 28) in New Westminster.
Amy Soranno, Geoff Regier, Roy Sasano and Nick Schafer – who have branded themselves as the Excelsior 4 – are facing years in prison if they are convicted. The trial is scheduled to begin June 27.
There is also a rally scheduled outside of the courthouse at 9 a.m. on Monday.
On April 28, 2019, the four and others from the Meat the Victims animal rights group entered and then occupied Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm. About 60 individuals went into the farm, while more than 100 others held a protest on Harris Road.
According to the press release from the Excelsior 4, their lawyers will argue at the pretrial hearing for the dismissal of some charges based on what they allege is misconduct by police and the BC SPCA.
The release states that lawyers are also seeking records from the police and the hog farm to better understand how key evidence contained on SD cards from cameras found on-site went missing during the investigation.
Soranno also stated that she believes the BC SPCA has failed to take enforcement in this situation and others.
“B.C. needs an enforcement agency that is accountable to the public, not a private charity that is unfit for the role and only answerable to its board of directors,” she said.
Farm owner Ray Binnendyk told media that day that it was a difficult experience for his family.
“As a family, this is very hard for us and what we’ve had to deal with in the last number of weeks,” he said. “We really pray that everyone sees the truth about us and that we are good people trying to make a good product and raise animals to the best of our ability.
“We feel very invaded,” he said. “Our private property… people just act like it’s all right to walk onto someone’s property.”
In addition to demanding that the hog farm be held accountable, the Excelsior 4 and animal rights activists across the province are calling on B.C. Agriculture Minster Lana Popham to replace the private charity BC SPCA with a more accountable government agency to enforce against animal cruelty in B.C.
Activists are also demanding the installation of closed-circuit TV cameras at all animal agriculture facilities in B.C.