Defence cries foul as 85,000 pages of evidence pile up.
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By Bill Tieleman
Published: October 31, 2006
Like a Frankenstein monster on the eve of Halloween, the seemingly dead case of the police raid on the British Columbia legislature nearly three years ago sprung to life in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday with a series of shocking revelations.
The new information came through a pre-trial application for disclosure filed by defence lawyers for David Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi -- all former government aides facing serious charges of breach of trust and money laundering.
Allegations and questions
Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough made an extended presentation that lasted through the day and included these allegations and questions:
Why wasn't the $1 billion B.C. Rail sale to CN Rail cancelled after a smaller deal to privatize the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank Port Subdivision -- worth about $70 million -- was stopped in 2004 when RCMP warned provincial Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that the process was compromised by leaks of confidential government information?
That key Crown witness Erik Bornman made a 25-page statement to police on the very day of the police raids on the legislature and Bornman's home -- December 28, 2003. Bornman is now a key Crown witness in the case.
That Premier Gordon Campbell and then-Finance Minister Gary Collins were electronically monitored by RCMP when they talked on a cell phone used by David Basi.
That RCMP were twice denied a "digital number recorder" warrant to monitor Basi's cell phone by a judge on the basis of parliamentary privilege but then applied a third time and only succeeded by not disclosing to the authorizing judge the earlier denial of warrants or the reasons for the denial.
That the defence had been unable to obtain "weekly reports to Inspector Zack conducting a review into media leaks" in the case, leaks that resulted in significant publicity that "had a profound deleterious effect on the fair trial rights of these accused persons."
That to date there has been a massive disclosure of more than 85,000 pages of evidence from the investigation.
A question asking how Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino could be unaware that key RCMP notes from lead investigator Corporal Andrew Cowan and a "Sergeant Buerk" were not provided: "Given that Sgt. Buerck is present for the April 5, 2004, meeting between Sgt. Finner and Cpl. Cowan wherein Sgt. Finner's notes indicate that a discussion is held and an agreement is made that Bornman will be treated as a witness? Is there a more important meeting?" reads part of a letter sent by McCullough to Berardino on August 27, 2005, but only released Thursday.
That the special prosecutor has "declined to provide defence council (sic) with a comprehensive inventory of all materials in the possession of police in respect of this investigation."
That the Basi-Virk case involved beleaguered RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, with the defence requesting a copy of a "memo and approval" from Zaccardelli.
Roberts Bank key to case?It is important to note that none of the statements, questions and allegations made in court or contained in the 20-page application for disclosure by the defence have been proven.
And indeed Special Prosecutor Berardino objected strongly at one point in the proceedings and noted that he will be making a full reply regarding the defence allegations in his own statement later this week.
But what the application does do is outline the defence's extreme frustration with what it says is a lack of disclosure of information needed to defend Basi, Virk and Basi against very serious criminal charges that could send them to jail.
Perhaps the most politically charged element of the defence presentation involves the cancellation of a B.C. Liberal government plan to privatize the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank Port Subdivision.
The bidders included many of the same corporations vying to buy B.C. Rail -- OmniTRAX -- the U.S. firm that hired Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs as its lobbyists -- in a consortium with Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, Canadian Pacific and CN.
New info dislodged
Allegations previously released in search-warrant information-to-obtain documents claimed that documents pertaining to the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank privatization deal were passed by David Basi to Bruce Clark, a federal Liberal Party in B.C. executive member and brother to then-deputy premier Christy Clark.
The ITO documents also alleged Bornman and Kieran paid David Basi and Bob Virk nearly $30,000 in exchange for confidential information on parts of the B.C. Rail deal.
There's finally a lot of new information coming out thanks to the defence application -- but it's the trial that is still scheduled to start on December 4, 2006, that will answer the many questions surrounding B.C.'s most fascinating political scandal case.
Related Tyee stories:
Erik Bornman: 'Spiderman' in a Web of Intrigue
Leg Raid Case: New Charges, New Questions
Premier Scrambles to 'Restore Trust'
Raids: How Big a Scandal?