The trial date has been set for the four people charged with 21 combined counts of break and enter and criminal mischief in relation to a protest at an Abbotsford hog farm in 2019. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

The trial date has been set for the four people charged with 21 combined counts of break and enter and criminal mischief in relation to a protest at an Abbotsford hog farm in 2019. (Ben Lypka/Abbotsford News)

Trial date set for activists linked to Abbotsford hog farm protest

The ‘Excelsior 4’ will head to trial on June 28, 2022, the four defendants face 21 combined charges

A trial date has been set for the four animal rights activists charged with 21 combined counts of break and enter and criminal mischief in relation to a large protest at Abbotsford’s Excelsior Hog Farm in 2019.

Amy Soranno, Geoff Regier, Roy Sasano and Nick Schafer, who now refer to themselves as the ‘Excelsior 4’, will begin their jury trial on June 27, 2022 at the B.C. Supreme Court in Abbotsford.

The trial is expected to last 19 days and there is a 10-day pretrial hearing scheduled for March 28, 2022.

“Our case will continue to shine a light on the criminal animal abuse taking place at Excelsior Hog Farm, and the failure to hold the factory farm accountable,” stated Soranno in a press release. “We will use our trial as an opportunity to further expose the rampant violence and suffering in animal agriculture, and the complicity of our justice and enforcement systems.”

The Meat The Victims group entered and then occupied the Abbotsford farm back on April 28, 2019. About 60 individuals went into the farm, while more than 100 others held a protest on Harris Road.

RELATED: Meat The Victims animal rights group invade Abbotsford farm

Excelsior became the target for the group after footage was released by PETA , which activists said depicted horrific conditions of the pigs being raised at the location.

Farm owner Ray Binnendyk told media that day that it was a difficult experience for his family.

“As a family, this is very hard for us and what we’ve had to deal with in the last number of weeks,” he said. “We really pray that everyone sees the truth about us and that we are good people trying to make a good product and raise animals to the best of our ability.

“We feel very invaded,” he said. “Our private property… people just act like it’s all right to walk onto someone’s property.”

The Excelsior 4’s first court appearance was on Sept. 3, 2020, and they later pleaded not guilty to all charges on Nov. 2, 2020.

RELATED: Abbotsford hog-farm protestors plead not guilty to 21 charges

They also claimed that the BCSPCA has not done enough to condemn Excelsior. Following the two aforementioned court appearances there were protests held at BCSPCA locations in Abbotsford and Vancouver.

The group reiterated their belief that the BCSPCA is unfit to protect animals and have been ineffective at enforcing animal cruelty at farms in the province. The Excelsior 4’s press release also stated that they, along with other animal rights groups, have called on B.C. agriculture minister Lana Popham to make a more accountable government agency to replace the BCSPCA.

RELATED: SPCA responds to claims from accused in Excelsior Hog Farm case

“It is unacceptable and possibly unconstitutional to have laws pertaining to animals, or any other laws, enforced by a charity which is exempt from mechanisms of public accountability and transparency essential to the responsible use of such power,” stated Jordan Reichert, Deputy Leader of the Animal Protection Party of Canada. “Let’s start by at least making those protecting animals accountable under the law, even if the animals themselves are not yet treated equally under it.”

The group has also launched a website, which can be found at excelsior4.org.

abbotsfordanimal crueltyBC Supreme CourtFarmingFraser Valley