Tuesday, June 10, 2008

 

Crown ... to shield police informant

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CROWN EASES OFF IN BASI CASE TO SHIELD POLICE INFORMANT

Mark Hume
The Globe and Mail - June 10, 2008

VANCOUVER -- The special prosecutor in a high-profile political corruption case in British Columbia indicated yesterday that the Crown would abandon key evidence rather than risk giving up the identity of a secret police informant.

It is unclear whether the prosecution of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi could continue without the evidence, which is contained in several restricted documents drawn from the notebook of the lead RCMP investigator in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the B.C. Legislature in 2003.

"This Crown will not breach this [informant] privilege in this case ... we will not resile from this position," William Berardino, the special prosecutor, told three judges of the Appeal Court of British Columbia yesterday. {Snip} ...

Madam Justice Bennett ruled that although the public and media were banned from the hearing, defence lawyers could attend after giving an undertaking that they would never reveal the name of the informant to anyone.

The hearing - which hasn't gone ahead because of the appeal - was to determine whether documents held by the Crown should be fully disclosed to the defence, even if the identity of an informant might be revealed in the process.

However, Mr. Berardino argued the judge had committed a serious error by agreeing to a procedure that could identify the informant. He said under Canada's strict laws protecting informant privilege, only the police, the Crown and a judge have the right to know the identity of a police source.

Mr. Berardino said Judge Bennett did not have the authority to broaden that small circle. "The judge has made a finding here which, with respect, is pretty remarkable," he said. He described her ruling as being "completely incorrect," and said if it stands it would change the law "in a very dramatic way."

The prosecutor said he had offered to give Judge Bennett a three-minute synopsis which would have made it "crystal clear" to her why the defence should not attend the hearing, but she had rejected that in favour of a closed session, with defence present.

Mr. Berardino said that while the principles of an open court and the right of the defence to make full reply are important, those concerns are trumped by the court's responsibility to protect informants.

"There is no justification for breaching the informant-privilege rule," he said. "The negative consequences of disclosure ... are too great."

He said the Crown has so far disclosed 260,000 pages of information to the defence. But prosecutors drew the line when it came to several documents that were identified only by code numbers.

In response to a question from Mr. Justice Ian Donald, Mr. Berardino agreed those documents came from the notebooks of RCMP Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere, the lead investigator in the case.

In questioning Mr. Berardino, Judge Donald said defence lawyers can make a strong argument for being present at closed hearings, in order "to prevent the court from being bamboozled" by prosecutors, who might claim privileged-informant status for individuals who didn't warrant it.

However, Mr. Berardino objected to that characterization, saying "the Crown wouldn't bamboozle a judge" on such an important issue.

The appeal continues. It is expected that however the B.C. Court of Appeal rules, the issue will subsequently go to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The investigation of Dave Basi and Mr. Virk began in 2003, when police began to suspect the two men, then top ministerial assistants, were trading confidential government information related to the sale of BC Rail. The two are charged with breach of trust and accepting a benefit. The third man, Aneal Basi, is charged with money laundering.

The case has political overtones because at the time Dave Basi and Mr. Virk were key operatives in British Columbia for both the provincial and federal Liberals.


http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20080610.BCBASI10/TPStory/National

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PROSECUTOR APPEALS RULING IN GOV'T AIDES CORRUPTION CASE

Keith Fraser
The Province - Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The case of three former B.C. government aides facing corruption charges went to the B.C. Court of Appeal yesterday for the first of three days of legal arguments.

At issue is a decision by the trial judge to allow defence lawyers to attend a hearing to determine whether informant privilege should apply to a person alleged to be a police informant.

Special prosecutor Bill Berardino is appealing the December ruling by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett. He said the judge erred by setting up a procedure that breaches the law.

He said only in cases where the innocence of the accused is at stake can the name of a police informant be revealed to third parties.

Berardino had offered to tell Bennett the informant's name in confidence but the judge declined. Instead, she said she had the discretion to release the information to the defence on an undertaking they would keep it confidential following an in-camera hearing. {Snip} ...


kfraser@png.canwest.com

http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=aac0e4a1-7564-40b1-9adb-d13604350243

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Comments:
This whole ordeal of the legislative raid is coming down to the word of one police informant who's identity is protected by federal law.

Why have we, the public, been put through this four year "trial" when it could have resolved in the first day by introducing the police informant to the courts?

Bearadino says he won't use the police informant's testimony. It seems that the crux of this whole fiasco hinges on the word of a crook over others, honest, but alledged to have sold insider information for personal gain, who might well have been found guilty if the informant's identity is protected.

Wierd world we live in. Police informants identity being protected from the public. Does it include pedophiles as well?
 
So, if the Crown drops the case on this issue, would they be "obstructing justice"?

It was refreshing to see the comment that it could go all the way to the SOC. If a positive ruling were to be handed down then we may be allowed to confront our accusers.

An after thought: Why couldn't this person go into the witness protection program? What are they afraid of? Being terminated with extreme prejudice? Or is it just their reputation they are worried about?
 
"Kevin DeBruyckere, the lead investigator in the case."

Shouldn't there be fuller disclosure here? I mean, shouldn't we know not only the official title (lead investigator) of Mr. DeBruyckere, but also his familial connections by blood and/or by marriage. (I dare anybody to untangle "business" dealings with these guys.)

Keeping track of the BC liaR Pary and the lobbyists and whack a mole CEO's of public agencies is kinda like (to borrow from Dick Cheney) tracking West Virginia family trees with the same names on both sides - maternal and paternal.

I was offended and disgusted, I can hardly recall how long ago, to discover that the investigation of a case that arose from a search warrant raid on the legislature would be led by a relative of the Executive of the BC liaR Party. Of course that makes it more understandable that the RCMP was able to claim that "no elected officials" were implicated or suspects. Well, I guess if you give somebody a free pass from the get go, it ain't likely they'll get arrested. It's difficult to go wrong with eighteen different kinds of privilege AND an immunity clause!

I thought BC was outgrowing it's old inbred ruling family run style with increased population of more diversity. But I guess we're still not urbane and/or sophisticated enough to not still be a banana republic with a justice system that is little more than the personal law firm of the ruling junta.
 
Nice way for good ol' Bill to have his cake and eat it too.

Drop the case and blame the Judge.

It's just that easy!
 
Anon Above--

If it really is just that easy, maybe the home fix-it guy should take over.

Sheesh.

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Anyone have any idea what this fiasco is costing us? Is there some Public Accounts record of payments made?
Sorry to tell you this, Mary, I guess I've become cynical but it seems to me the Crown is looking for any way to drop this case. It's almost summer--time for vacations. Like the judge in the Air India case who promptly left town for a holiday in Cuba.
 
anon 6:54- Hidding identities includes the victims 'they' turned into a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise!
 
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