Start of trial of two men and their restaurant charged with 50 housing regulation offences for keeping tenants in condemned suites above their 17 ave. restaurant and other in the sewage infested basement believed to be immigrant workers in Calgary. Monday April 16 2012.
Credits: DARREN MAKOWICHUK/QMI AGENCY
Ehsan Ali testified he only learned an employee and at least one friend were occupying the basement a week to 10 days before the sewage problem was discovered.
And Ali said he told the man he'd have to leave and expected he had complied with the eviction order.
"How long had these people been living in this basement?" Crown attorney Rob O'Neill asked the accused, who faces 58 charges under the Public Health Act.
"When I came to know, probably 10 days," Ali said.
"How many people were living in the basement?" O'Neill continued.
"One of the (restaurant) staff was living there illegally and he brought another friend," Ali said.
"I knew that one staff is living there back and forth -- I asked him to leave."
Photos taken of the basement, which was not designed for residential occupation and had no windows, showed there were three beds when health inspectors showed up March 21, 2011, to investigate the sewage backup.
There was also a big screen TV, a microwave, cabinets, mirrors and photos hanging on the walls and a makeshift closet with numerous articles of clothing hanging.
Ali told Judge Heather Lamoureux he assumed the employee had complied with his order to vacate the premises.
"Every day he told me he'd left, he went back to his dad's place," he said.
Ali said he was not receiving any compensation from the unnamed man for staying on the property.
Along with the furnishings, the occupants had used an old door as a makeshift "bridge" to walk over the estimated 15 to 20 cm deep raw sewage in the basement, O'Neill noted.
Ali and his company, Oh! Calcutta.ca Ltd., face food and housing charges in connection with his operation of the Wicked Chili restaurant and the use of the basement and two condemned residential units above the eatery.
His former partner, Salauddin Choudhury, failed to show up for trial until Tuesday afternoon, a day and a half into the trial and was ordered arrested by Lamoureux.
He'll face a bail hearing Wednesday morning.
Ali's trial continues.