Opening arguments have been delayed in the case of three people tied to a fundamentalist polygamous sect in southeastern British Columbia as lawyers wrangled over evidence the court will hear during the 14-day trial.
Brandon Blackmore, Gail Blackmore and James Oler are each accused of unlawfully removing a child from Canada for sexual purposes.
The allegations date back to 2004 and involve two different minors.
Mr. Oler and Gail Blackmore, who was identified as Emily Ruth Gail Crossfield when charges were laid more than two years ago, have chosen not to hire a lawyer.
That slowed down proceedings on Tuesday as they were given more time review matters that would ordinarily be routine in a judge-only trial.
Brandon Blackmore, who is being represented by Victoria lawyer John Gustafson, was excused from court early on Tuesday.
An amicus — or impartial adviser — has been appointed to assist in court procedures, but not act as legal counsel to the self-represented defendants.
The allegations are mostly based on information that came to light as a result of U.S. investigations, the B.C. Criminal Justice Branch said in announcing the charges in August, 2014.
Mr. Oler and Gail Blackmore were accompanied by supporters as they entered the courtroom in Cranbrook, B.C., not far from the small community of Bountiful, where some residents practise plural marriage.
Justice Paul Pearlman asked the pair whether they still wished to go ahead without legal counsel. They replied that they did.
He then gave them a detailed overview of trial procedures, including voicing objections, cross-examining witnesses and obtaining paper and pens from the sheriff to take notes.
Mr. Oler, a one-time leader in Bountiful, leaned in while the judge spoke. Gail Blackmore gazed down with her chin in her hands.
Bountiful is the informal name of a community near the Canada-U.S. border more than 700 kilometres east of Vancouver. Members follow a fundamentalist form of Mormonism that, unlike the mainstream Mormon church, still condones polygamy.
Mr. Oler and Winston Blackmore, another leader in the divided community, will later face a separate trial on polygamy charges, which were also announced in 2014.
None of the accusations has been proven in court.Report Typo/Error