The ‘Excelsior 4’ are in the preliminary phase facing 21 combined charges of breaking and entering and criminal mischief in connection with a large protest at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019.
Warning: This story contains graphical details that may be distressing to some readers.
Four animal activists charged with break and enter and mischief for what they say is filming alleged “horrible animal cruelty” at an Abbotsford pig farm began legal proceedings on March 28.
Amy Soranno, Geoff Regier, Roy Sasano and Nick Schafer are charged with 21 counts in connection with alleged 2019 offenses at Excelsior Hog Farm.
On April 28, 2019, the group and other Meat the Victims activists entered the farm and staged a sit-in.
“Dead pigs have been found rotting in their pens,” Soranno said. “Live pigs ate their bodies.”
The video was filmed by the band and posted by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).
On Monday morning, protesters gathered outside New Westminster court, holding pictures of bloodied pigs. Sorrano confirmed that the photos were taken inside the farmhouse.
When Sorrano was asked who took the videos and photos, attorney Joe Killoran chimed in and said it was a matter for the court.
The group’s website said the video “showed crowded pens filled with thousands of pigs with hernias, bloody lacerations and golf ball-sized growths. Some couldn’t even walk, so they languished and died slowly on the dirty concrete floor.
Another disturbing and graphic video released allegedly shows cruel treatment of animals.
“The fact that we are facing jail time while Excelsior Hog Farm is free to continue its abusive practices is a travesty of justice,” Soranno said. “Our case will continue to shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior and the failure to hold the factory farm accountable.”
A jury will hear the case from June 27. The current hearings are reserved for Judge Frits Verhoeven alone to determine the admissibility of evidence.
Class attorneys are expected to argue in favor of dismissing certain charges based on allegations of misconduct by police and the BC SPCA, according to a statement.
Lawyers are also researching police and pig farm records to better understand how key evidence of criminal animal cruelty contained on camera maps found at the scene allegedly disappeared during the investigation.
The group is calling on BC Agriculture, Food and Fisheries Minister Lana Popham to replace the BC SPCA with “a more accountable government agency to address cruelty to animals in British Columbia”.
They also want CCTV cameras to be mandatory in all animal breeding facilities in the province.
“It is unacceptable and possibly unconstitutional for animal laws, or any other law, to be enforced by a charity that is exempt from the public accountability and transparency mechanisms essential to the responsible use of such power. “said Jordan Reichert, deputy leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada, in the statement.
“Let’s start by at least making those who protect animals accountable under the law, even if the animals themselves aren’t treated the same yet,” Reichert said.
The case is expected to last four weeks.