Sunday, December 02, 2007

 

Tomorrow, December 3, the beginning of a 3-week pre-trial Basi Virk Basi hearing

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Of course, I was saying this very same thing a year ago -- but it looks as if the 3-week hearing is a make-or-break session in the saga of the B.C. Rail Case. Bill Tieleman says that he expects the Supreme Court will start off as usual, open to the public. But fairly quickly, the question of the Secret Witnesses is expected to be hammered out. So anyone planning to attend, go! Please go! And let us know what you see, hear, and think of it.

On Secret Witnesses, Bill Tieleman's blog has an article from the New York Times for Dec. 1/07, Witness Names to Be Withheld from Detainee, which says in part:

The case of the detainee, Omar Ahmed Khadr, is being closely watched because it may be the first Guantánamo prosecution to go to trial, perhaps as soon as May.

Defense lawyers say military prosecutors have sought similar orders to keep the names of witnesses secret in other military commission cases, which have been a centerpiece of the Bush administration’s policies for detainees at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Some legal experts and defense lawyers said the judge’s order, issued on Oct. 15 without public disclosure, underscored the gap between military commission procedures and traditional American rules that the accused has a right to a public trial and to confront the witnesses against him.

Defense lawyers say the order would hamper their ability to build an adequate defense because they cannot ask their client or anyone else about prosecution witnesses, making it difficult to test the veracity of testimony.

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Again, here's Bill Tieleman's tip: "I would anticipate the court room may well be closed for part of the day for the in-camera application but whether that happens at 10 a.m. sharp or later in the day is anyone's guess. I would hope that Justice Elizabeth Bennett would say in open court what process she will follow before doing anything else. She has made a point of ensuring media access and openness, so I think that's a fair bet but the Named Person case precedent may also be beyond her ability to act otherwise than to close the court.

"I will be there before 10 a.m. and return after my regular CKNW radio gig ends at 11 a.m. and will try to post updates on my blog for those interested. - Bill Tieleman."

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