Monday, January 07, 2008


Basi Virk Basi : more delays, new disclosure application ...

... as Crown appeals secret witness ruling, defence says case has "more paper" than Air India or Pickton.


The long-awaited trial of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi in the BC Legislature raid case may face further delays and not start in March as planned, it became clear today in BC Supreme Court.

And an exasperated defence lawyer complained that the Basi-Virk case now has "more paper" - documents entered as potential evidence - than either the Air India bombing trial or the Robert "Willie" Pickton murder trial!

Two new developments - one from the Special Prosecutor, one from the defence - could further push back the trial, which has suffered from lengthy delays already.

Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino is appealing a decision of BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett to allow defence lawyers to be present when a secret witness who is a police informer testifies. Berardino will take that fight to the BC Court of Appeal but the timing and length of that hearing are as yet unknown.

The defence has also filed another application for disclosure of evidence, arguing that the Crown has not provided information needed to prepare a full defence against charges of breach of trust, fraud and money laundering against the former BC Liberal government aides.

I was in BC Supreme Court for a short period today, just long enough to hear Berardino tell Bennett: "We need a week plus a couple of days to comply with most of this. I suggest we return January 16 if it's alright with your ladyship."

"I think we need to back up a bit so I can see what issues are outstanding," Bennett replied.

In the end Bennett decided court will resume pre-trial hearings Wednesday January 9 to complete the issue of BC government claims of solicitor-client privilege over documents related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - documents the defence wants turned over.

And then a pre-trial hearing on BC Rail "vets" - a review of BC Rail documents to see which are relevant to the case - and on a notice of motion - will resume on Thursday January 17.

Bennett also heard a complaint from Kevin McCullough, lawyer for Bob Virk, that the defence is being swamped by massive disclosures of documents.

McCullough said the defence has received more than 45,000 pages of evidence from the Crown since October 22, following 12,000 in July. The court has previously heard that there are more than 100,000 pages of evidence.

McCullough told Bennett that this case now has more documents than either the Air India bombing trial or the Willie Pickton trial for the murder of six women from the downtown eastside - both lengthy and complicated cases.

The veteran criminal lawyer said he cannot read more than 1000 pages a day - 500 if they are reviewed comprehensively.

Meanwhile, I have been able to piece together some information on the Monday December 17, 2007 court session.

As you may know, there were no reporters present and no stories filed - regrettably I was unable to attend myself. The Canadian Press has almost religiously covered the pre-trial hearings but no reports were issued for that day.

My understanding is that arguments continued on the issue of the BC government claiming solicitor client privilege over BC Rail documents the defence is seeking access to.

As noted in my earlier reports, the defence has argued that Bob Virk, through his position as Ministerial Assistant to the Minister of Transportation and an attendee at BC Rail Evaluation Committee meetings, saw these documents previously but is now denied copies for his defence.

Government lawyer George Copley has yet to respond to those defence arguments but is expected to do so Wednesday January 9.

Lastly, Justice Elizabeth Bennett has ruled that the defence lawyers could remain in the courtroom to hear the testimony of the secret witness-police informer but has not published reasons for that ruling, which, as mentioned above, will be appealed by the Special Prosecutor.

So, the proof is in the pudding. Baldry was fed a leak. Man I think I'll come out of retirement and be a reporter. Just wait around till someone feeds me a load then collect a fat paycheck.
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