Tuesday, December 19, 2006

 

New delay raises fears of a Fall trial

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Fraud trial hits another snag
Globe and Mail BC edition
19 December 2006
 
MARK HUME

VANCOUVER -- The Supreme Court of British Columbia was asked again yesterday to put off a trial date for a case stemming from a joint RCMP-Victoria Police Department raid on the legislature.

In granting the new delay -- this time for three weeks -- Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett raised fears for the first time that the high-profile case, which leaped into the headlines with the legislature search in December, 2003, might not come to trial until next fall.

"If you keep postponing the trial you end up crashing into people's calendars," said Judge Bennett, who said repeated delays could lead to scheduling conflicts for some of the defence lawyers.

"The concern is that suddenly we are going to be looking at a fall trial date instead of a spring trial date," said Judge Bennett, seeking assurance that everyone would be ready to begin soon. "Let's say we come back Jan. 15. . . . Are we then going to be able to start with applications Feb. 1?"

The three defence lawyers indicated they will be clear to proceed at that time, but two said they have trials that might have to be shifted to accommodate the legislature case.

William Berardino, special Crown prosecutor in a case that involves charges of fraud, money-laundering and influence-peddling against three former government officials, said another three weeks are needed to sort out disclosure issues.

"Everyone has been working full time, and that's an understatement," Mr. Berardino told Judge Bennett.

The original Dec. 4 trial date was set back when Judge Bennett granted the defence access to a highly secure "project room," where RCMP have stored more than 11,000 documents related to the investigation against Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi.

Defence lawyers had sought access so that they could oversee a document inventory being undertaken by the Crown. That application stemmed from defence concerns that some of the thousands of documents had been mislabelled or misplaced.

Mr. Berardino said considerable progress has been made in the past two weeks. "We are working on all the disclosure issues, not just the project room," he said.

"We will work through the holidays," he said, asking court to wait until Jan. 15. "At that time I believe we will have narrowed the issues . . . very substantially. . . . Everyone is attempting to achieve the earliest trial date."

Michael Bolton, the lawyer for Dave Basi, said the latest delay was needed in part because on Nov. 17 the Crown had released "120,000 to 130,000 new pages" of information.

"We need to assimilate everything that we've been given," he said.

Kevin McCullough, lawyer for Mr. Virk, said that "if I work non-stop from today until then," he might be ready on Jan. 15 to set a trial date.

The case is of high public interest because of the political connections of Dave Basi and Mr. Virk.

At the time of the police raids, Mr. Basi was a top aid to the provincial finance minister and Mr. Virk was an assistant to the transportation minister. They are facing charges for allegedly trading secret government information related to the sale of BC Rail by the province.

The third man on trial, Aneal Basi, was a low-level information officer in the Ministry of Transportation. He is facing money-laundering charges for allegedly handling payments meant for Dave Basi.
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Comments:
What the hell!

Where is this pile of paper coming from?

There was never talk of an 'additional' 150,000 pp of paper was there? If there were 60,000 - 80,000 pp to start with and they've now added 150,000 more it would be up to 230,000pp in total, right?

How can this be?

There's something wrong with all of this and it looks to me as though the crown doesn't have a clue what it's up to.

And Robin, I wonder what he thinks?

Jeez.
 
Hmmm, the judge is starting to get ticked with these seemingly endless delays.

Another hmmm as a thought comes to mind. I know you've mused on this before BC Mary...with those stiff charges pending against the Three Boyz, who knows, they just may spill the beans and say, "The Devil made me do it", and we know who the "Devil" is!

One can only hope.

The wheels grind exceeding slow, hopefully exceeding fine.

Ceritanne
 
Berardino is quoted as saying "everyone is working full time, and that is an understatement."

Was this a misquote? I am sure that he must have meant NOT an understatement, n'est pas?

The heat may be getting to poor old Bill.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
Justice delayed is justice denied. I have one question Mary, what the hell is going on?? Seems to me somebody in government wants to drag this out and hope it just goes away.
 
Tim: I sure hope not. But all those documents, eh? ... I don't know what the heck they're looking at (or looking for) ... can't really imagine why they'd need 100,000 documents to prove or disprove those charges.

But as I've felt from the very beginning: surely BOTH sides would be happy to see this whole thing disappear.

Which is why it's important for the public to keep a close watch on this case.

Can't help feeling sad for Basi, Virk, Basi and their families who have waited 3 years to get started on this ... and yet, they're also the ones who could give the order to proceed -- aren't they?
 
Good points Mary. To me it doesn't seem like basi/virk are the ones dragging their feet. They chose trial by judge alone in 2005 which means a quicker trial. I have talked to some lawyers who have told that doing this early is suppose to speed things up. I wish they had chosen a jury, that would have been interesting. As I have said before, if they wanted a mistrial they would not have gone before the judge and told her this. The judge was pretty clear in her admonishment of the rcmp back in October when she ruled on the file room. I think the establishment is pretty nervous about the close ties with big business and what this trial will hopefully tell us about the dominance of the wealthy elite and the fire sale of our public assets. I worry about bc hydro and icbc, we have already seen what is happening in healtcare.
 
Yeah ... I guess it's a foolish hope, but I keep hoping that if it's proven in court that the BCRail "sale" was flawed, then the railway will revert to public ownership.

Then BC Hydro ...

Then BC Ferries ...

Then BC Medical ...
 
Mary, did you see Gary Mason's piece on these poor souls in the Globe and Mail this morning? What a clever bit of manipulation, the goal of which is to raise sympathy for these aggrieved fellows.

About the only thing the huge feature did right was raise the issue of why Kieran and Bornmann have been left alone.
 
Somebody sent in a comment (I guess it will show up here sometime) about the Gary Mason story in today's Globe and Mail, asking if I saw it. Sure did.

Don't really know what to make of it. Cripes, it starts off (in the on-line copy) in bed with Mr & Mrs Basi ... I ask you, how detached, neutral, and unbiased is that?

So I've re-read it a few times, and some curious things begin to stand out. Have a 2nd look at the brief conversation between Dave Basi and Martyn Brown (who called before Virk had even been visited by police that 28 Dec. 2003).

Martyn Brown says "This is very serious." And Basi, who is claiming throughout the article that he knew nothing, answers, "Yeah. I know." And seems to completely accept the fact that he's instantly fired. Isn't that a bit odd?

There's a curious turn of phrase when Mason is pouring it on about how badly the three men were treated. He says that Basi had "his name and face splattered all over the news in the most unflattering context." I never saw anything like that. Did you?

And Mason says "A headline blared: Basi owns home busted for grow-op" which, although confused, doesn't "blare" ... does it?

So what's with this, anyway? Our journalists have mostly been afraid to write for the past 3 years ... the accused men have been afraid to speak ... the government refuses to speak on the subject ... and we end up with a tear-jerker story about how hard this is for the accused.

Well, that's true and I'm sorry. It must be hard. I too wish it had never happened.

But what about us? How do they think British Columbians feel, wondering what happened to our railroad ... wondering what the heck is going on within the legislative precincts. The public is just as much in the dark as Basi, Virk, and Basi. More so, I'd say.

And really, couldn't BVB get this trial underway just by asking their lawyers to pronounce themselves ready to proceed?
 
And you know something else that's kind of funny.
I tried to post this comment to Mason's stoy, (right after yours Mary):


While I have every sympathy with the three protagonists whose lives have been shattered by this case, swift justice is supposed to be a 'value' in this country, but I'm still very unsatisfied by Gary Mason's article.

Why so much emphasis upon the grow-op and not a single mention of the other case connected to the accused: Using political influence to get a developer's land out of the ALR.


And why did Mr Mason not ask just a few more questions about the political connections which made Dave Basi a very important person in the Campbell government who was so summarily dropped by that same government once the police started investigating?

I'm more than willing to accept that the accused are 'innocent', but I'm highly suspicious that someone, at a very high level in the Campbell government, may have a lot more to hide about the way business is done in this province.

In fact, I'm looking forward to this trial for exactly that reason. I suspect Mr Campbell would be much happier if Basi, Basi and Virk had quietly taken the hit for whatever has been going on. I'm sure Mr. Campbell is looking forward to this trial with exactly the same kind of enthusiasm he did a certain news conference after his celebrated adventures in Maui. Erik Bornmann seems to have cooperated very nicely.

Gordon Campbell runs this government like a very 'hands-on' CEO.


And you know what?

The Globe didn't post it.

I have to wonder why.
gw
 
For the fellow who sent a comment just after BC Mary. The Globe shows a notice in yellow stating that the editors may take a while to post stuff, up to 24 hours. I don't belive they were picking on you. Check back later. They do email you if they post your comments.
 
I reposted my comments. In case they 'lost' the original submission. In my view, they've decided not to post what I wrote. There are at least 14 new comments up on the site now.
I'll check back tomorrow but I won't be holding my breath.
GO figure. You can read my thoughts just above here.
 
And now a further update. My comments are finally posted on the G&M comments pane...more than 24 hours after they were originally submitted...but why quibble.

Still, looking at the words again and their implication, I can't imagine why it took so long.

I've also been investigating some of the recent attempts to edit the Leg Raids entry at Wikipedia. Certainly looks to me as though some 'Liberal' folks are interested in cleaning up their image.

Can't help but wonder if some of Mary's speculation might not be far from the truth. Are Basi and Co. trying to rehabilitate themselves (and blame the whole business on some nasty racists) through the good offices of Gary Mason?

Looking at most of the comments on the G&M site it would be hard not to conclude that the article was tending to have that effect among some readers.

Very worrisome.
gw
 
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