Canada fashion mogul seeks bail on US sex trafficking charges

Canadian fashion executive Peter Nygard on Tuesday sought release on bail while he fights extradition to the US to stand trial for sex crimes, saying he fears contracting Covid-19 in prison.

"Before you this morning is a 79-and-a-half-year-old man, (a) frail man, almost 80 years old," his lawyer Jay Prober told a Winnipeg, Manitoba courtroom via teleconference, according to local reports.

"We will be arguing that keeping him in jail at these times of the Covid pandemic is nothing short of a death sentence and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment," he said.

In an affidavit, Nygard said he has not been getting proper nourishment or sleep in custody, saying it is "draining my body of its ability to fight the Covid," should he catch it.

Nygard lamented that most of the food served to him in prison contains white sugar and white carbohydrates, things he stopped eating a decade earlier.

"I am getting weaker everyday. I have lost weight; have difficulty breathing," he said.

The two-day bail hearing was originally scheduled for early January but Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench Judge Theodore Bock granted a prosecution request to delay it in order to review the US charges and defense submissions.

Nygard faces nine charges, including racketeering and sex trafficking, involving "at least a dozen victims in the United States, the Bahamas, and Canada, among other locations," the New York federal attorney in charge of the case said in a statement.

The crimes allegedly took place between 1990 and 2020. Nygard and his alleged accomplices, including employees of his group, "used force, fraud, and coercion to cause women and minors to have sex" with them, the statement said.

Nygard, who has been in Canadian custody since mid-December, has denied the accusations.

On Tuesday, the court heard from a former executive at Nygard's company who offered to act as surety against his fleeing.

A former Hells Angels associate was also scheduled to testify at the hearing, on Nygard's behalf.

Lawyers for Canada's attorney general said they would oppose Nygard's release on bail, saying he has a history of not showing up to court and has the means to flee.

Topics: Peter Nygard , Canada , Jay Prober , Sex crimes , Covid-19

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