The 62-year old man accused of smuggling 34 Chinese migrants from the United States into Canada has pleaded guilty on all charges except one earlier today at the Provincial Court of British Columbia in Richmond.
Today’s hearing was the first in the trial which is expected to last until late September.
Michael Kong, who was seated beside his attorney Shelley Sugarman is facing seven charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
During a period of several months in 2015, Kong is believed to have instructed the migrants to walk into Canada posing as tourists through Peace Arch Park which borders the United States and is freely accessible from either side.
“Mr. Kong is alleged to have assisted them at various times in ‘jumping the border’ from the U.S. into British Columbia, and thereafter travelling to the Toronto area where they filed refugee protection claims at the Etobicoke office of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Kent in an earlier decision on the case.
According to Crown counsel, prosecutors are relying on a witness from China who is being processed by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRRC) to appear before the court and provide testimony.
Due to the complicated nature of the process which contains “several moving parts”, according to Crown Counsel Carrier, it is uncertain when the witness will be able to appear before the court.
The next trial date is set for August 9th, where both the judge and Kong will be appearing in court via video.