Tuesday, October 21, 2008

 

Mark Hume says: Corruption trial for political aides set to start in January

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The Globe and Mail - October 21, 2008

VANCOUVER -- A political corruption trial that stems from a 2003 police raid on the British Columbia Legislature appears set for a January start.

The case against three former government employees - Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi - has been tied up in pretrial hearings over disclosure issues that have caused frequent delays.

But Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of B.C. made it clear yesterday that she expects all those issues to be dealt with during a three-week hearing starting Nov. 24.

"What I want to do is have all of the disclosure issues dealt with by the end of this year," she said.

That would see the potentially explosive trial get under way before the next provincial election, which takes place in May.

{Snip} ...

It has long been speculated that the trial could disclose politically damaging material.

William Berardino, the special prosecutor, told Judge Bennett that he thought the decks could be cleared for a January start.

"There are some extraneous issues ... [but] they are not major issues," he said.

Janet Winteringham, a member of the prosecution's team, told court that there has been substantial progress concerning the release of 1,500 documents, covered by privilege, to which the defence seeks access.

"Out of the 1,500 that were at issue we are down to just over 400 that have yet to be resolved," she said, and lawyers are continuing to meet outside court to discuss those documents.

Much of the material was subject to claims of privilege because it involved cabinet documents or was covered by solicitor-client privilege. Privilege has been waived for most of the material.

Michael Bolton, a lawyer for Dave Basi, said there has been progress but there are still some matters to be dealt with.

"We received about 10 days ago a banker's box ... of material [from the Crown] that we have been seeking for a long time," he told court. "We're pleased to get that ... [but] we need to work out what [material] remains outstanding."

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081021.BCBASI21/TPStory/?query=mark+hume


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Comments:
I think Marks' guess on the trial start is forward looking. Don't forget that in April 2007 Justice Bennett wanted the trial to start before the end of that year. She also said that the public interest was paramount. We have seen nothing but delay after delay and total interference by a government that keeps saying they can't comment because it's before the courts.

We also have a Special Prosecutor that is appointed to keep the trial at arms length from the government but gives all the appearances of, I allege, working hand in glove with that government. Justice in BC is a sham. And Mary, I hope Marks guess is correct. But as I have said before, as have others, these delays are engineered to keep the actual trial out of the courts long enough to get through the next election.
 
I believe Gary E is correct. My understanding is that in January 2009 Justice Bennett hopes to hear defence pre-trial motions - including one to throw the whole case out of court based on Crown and RCMP failure to adequately disclose evidence in a timely manner.

There is no chance - in my view - that the actual trial will start in January.
 
In posing this make believe trial date of January, Mark Hume is ignoring the serious delays caused by Bill Berardino in having a secret witness testify without defence lawyers or the public present.

The appeal of the trial judge and the majority decision of the BC Court of Appeal (regarding the secret witness) to the Supreme Court of Canada will itself take this case well past the next election and well into 2009- YEAR 6 of this case.

Bill Tieleman's blog took notice of Justice Bennett's comments about whether the case can continue until the SCC deals with Berardino's appeal.
 
Regardless the dates, this business of the CONTINUED suppression of hundreds of documents due to government claims of 'solictor/client privilege' is just ridiculous all these years later.

Because if even one single, solitary solicitor-client privilege-protected document contains information regarding matters of 'innocence at stake', as has already been defined by the presiding Justice in the case, it is, in my opinion, a travesty of justice (not to mention stonewalling on an epic scale that would make even the ghost of Richard Nixon's jaw drop).

But you don't have to take my word for it. Instead, you can just revisit the conclusory sentences from a most excellent editorial in the Victoria Times-Colonist from February of 2008:

"....there is no requirement that solicitor-client privilege be maintained; it is not law. The government is not a defendant in these proceedings.

It (the government) could choose to be open, transparent and co-operative and provide the evidence.

Instead, it is seeking to withhold the evidence."



OK?

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