'Isn't Top5 on the run for a body?': Fugitive Toronto rapper goes live on Instagram
A Toronto-area rap artist has been connecting with fans on social media — but there’s one problem: he’s also on the run and wanted for murder.
Top5, whose real name is Hassan Ali, appeared to his followers on a livestream via Instagram over the weekend, where he claimed his innocence, boasted about a new video, and faced questions from fans wondering why he wasn’t turning himself in.
"Isn't Top5 on the run for a body?" one asked via a text message that the video maker can read.
"The only run I know is the treadmill," Ali responded with a chuckle. "I didn't do sh*t. Save that for god."
Ali was first charged with accessory to murder after the January killing of Hashim Omar Hashi, a 23-year-old student who police say had no connections to the criminal world.
He was released on bail despite warning signs that he had previously been accused of ignoring orders from the justice system, a review of court documents shows.
The charge was upgraded to first degree murder in May.
Now, police say he may have fled to western Canada, warn he may be violent and dangerous, and are appealing for help in arresting him again.
Lawyers and private detectives told CTV News Toronto that appearing by video could be an incredibly bad idea for Ali, firstly because of the clues he may be creating with every frame he broadcasts.
"A picture offers a million points of extreme interest to an investigator, and then it’s zooming in and figuring out locations and other details by a process of elimination," said Trevor Haywood of Haywood Hunt and Associates Inc, a private investigative firm in Toronto.
And no matter how much social media attention Ali is getting with these videos, they’re likely to end up being used by prosecutors in his trial, said Sean Robichaud, a criminal lawyer who is not representing Ali.
"There's no lawyer that would advise someone to go on social media," Robichaud said. "It's not worth it. You can be extremely successful in bringing attention to yourself as an artist, but all that matters very little if you are serving a life sentence in prison."
A conviction of first degree murder carries a life sentence with no chance of parole for 25 years.
Documents show Ali was also charged with failing to comply with a probation order in April and May of 2020. He was also charged with breaching a condition by operating a motor vehicle in August.
He was released on an undertaking then. His lawyer, Jordan Silver, appeared at later hearings.
It's not clear what factor his alleged breaches may have played in a decision by a judge to release him on bail. His release conditions include not using a cell phone except in the presence of his sureties, and to not access any social media, including Instagram.
Ali didn't respond to messages from CTV News Toronto but the lawyer representing him on the alleged breaches spoke briefly.
"I naturally follow what is happening with my client, however I'm not at liberty to comment right now as I don’t want to say anything that could compromise solicitor-client privilege," said Jordan Silver.