Prayers, tears in Kelowna following New Zealand mosque shootings – Global News

Prayers, tears in Kelowna following New Zealand mosque shootings - Global News
Total luck this weekend – Kelowna News
There were prayers and tears at the Kelowna Islamic Centre on Friday with the massacre in New Zealand fresh on the minds of worshipers.

Mosques, churches and places of worship are a sacred place where people go to seek peace,” said Ahmed Rizki of the Kelowna Islamic Center.

Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale, who was in Kelowna for a funding announcement, spoke about the massacre.

Attacking innocent people during prayers is appalling. We condemn in the strongest terms the act of terrorism that took place yesterday. All Canadians join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving, Goodale said.

Kelowna mayor Colin Basran says events like in New Zealand serve as a reminder on why the city promotes inclusion and diversity.

This is a very stark reminder of why we continue to do that. Everybody in every community deserves to be able to be accepted, included and feel like they have a place to call home, Basran said.

This is my first time in 40 years ever being in a mosque, but this time I felt I needed to come and show up and show support, so our brothers here feel safe, said A.J. Gill of the Kelowna Sikh Temple.

Also showing their support to the local Muslim community is the RCMP, sending a senior member to Fridays prayer session. And sending a message that the police will be increasing their presence at local mosque.

The Crown is seeking a sentence of up to eight years for a man who violently raped a young woman more than three years ago in West Kelowna.

After several weeks of trial, Jeremy Czechowski was convicted last May, stemming from the February 2016 sexual assault.

Through trial, the court heard the victim, M, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, and her friend went to Czechowki's home on West Kelowna's Wiig Road after a night out at Kelowna's Sapphire nightclub. M testified she believed they were going to his house to buy cocaine, and then go home.

After initially tearing off her underwear shortly after she arrived at the home, M said Czechowski violently raped her in an upstairs bedroom for hours.

After M texted her friend “Help,” about 6 a.m., her friend called police. An officer found M near Wiig Road and Green Bay Road just before 7 a.m., hiding in a bush.

The officer testified that in his 15 years of service, he'd never seen someone so eager to get in his car.

During the trial, Czechowski took the stand and argued that he had engaged in consensual sex with M, before she “went crazy” and ran outside. He said they once again engaged in consensual sex after she “calmed down.”

Justice Kenneth Ball accepted M's testimony that she never consented to sex, and convicted Czechowski of sexual assault causing bodily harm, unlawful confinement, attempting to choke, and uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.

“On the whole of the evidence, I find that the accused intended to cause bodily harm to M for gratification for sexual impulses," Ball said in his ruling.

On Friday, Crown prosecutor Angela Ross said M has been “emotionally and psychologically crippled by fear, anxiety (and) panic attacks,” and she suffers from PTSD.

Citing his presentence report, Ross said Czechowski continues to deny the outcome of the trial and blames his lawyer for not mounting a strong enough defence.

The Crown argued the rape is at the "most serious end of the spectrum" of sexual assault causing bodily harm cases, and is therefore seeking a total sentence between six to eight years. Czechowski's defence, meanwhile, proposed a three-year sentence.