Monday, January 25, 2010
Basi-Virk trial not expected to drag on
Trial anticipated to take 8-10 weeks; start date may be set by Feb 8
The Globe and Mail - Jan. 25, 2010
Vancouver, B.C. - A political corruption case that has been before the courts for nearly six years will unfold relatively quickly once the trial starts, the Supreme Court of British Columbia has been told.
“We are anticipating … the trial would take something in the order of … eight to 10 weeks,” special prosecutor William Berardino said.
Also to be dropped by the defence are an abuse-of-process application – which would have sought to have the case dismissed because it has taken so long – and a motion for disclosure of more third-party records.
Discussions on moving the trial from Vancouver to Victoria, and a defence motion to elect a jury trial are also being resolved outside court, Mr. Berardino said, without indicating exactly what agreements have been struck.
“That's the progress we've made, so I am encouraged,” he said.
Mr. Berardino said he would come back to court on Feb. 8 to give a final update and he expected to be ready on that day, or by Feb. 10 at the latest, to set a trial date.
Madam Justice MacKenzie, who, when she took over the case last year, said she wanted to go to trial by February, thanked defence and Crown lawyers for settling their disputes outside court and preventing further delays.
“The court wants to acknowledge the hard work of counsel … it's in the interest of the administration of justice,” she said.
Outside court, Michael Bolton, who is defending Dave Basi, said he agreed with Mr. Berardino's statements, but cautioned that it's hard to predict the exact length of any trial.
“It's difficult to say exactly,” he replied when asked how many witnesses the defence would summon. “It obviously will depend on which witnesses the Crown calls.”
Mr. Berardino said while the majority of the outstanding applications have been withdrawn, that doesn't mean the defence is retreating.
“The Crown and defence [still] have a fundamental and basic disagreement about the Crown's ability to prove their case,” he said.
And special thanks to those who invest their time and dedicate their best to keeping us informed by their reports from the courtroom.
Nor can we forget that this is the most important trial in the history of British Columbia. It should reveal how a major public asset could slip out of public ownership and into private pockets under a deal still partially secret. How could that happen in a democratic society?
We cannot forget that BC Rail was Canada's largest regional railway, and the 3rd largest railway in the nation. It's an enormous asset to just ... lose. Its 1,500 km. of mainline track ran from North Vancouver to Fort Nelson, with branch lines to Mackenzie, Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St James. BC Rail and its trainmen were especially suited to our mountain terrain as well as responsive to the far-flung towns, villages, farms, and industries who need to a guaranteed means of moving their products to market. BC Rail answered all those needs ... and regularly sent its profits to bolster the provincial treasury.
In my view, BC Rail should never have been sold, and in this trial we may discover, for the first time, how that happened. - BC Mary.