Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Basi Virk Trial - delayed again!

The long-awaited trial of BC Liberal government aides David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi has been delayed once again.

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett reluctantly decided Wednesday that the planned trial start date of April 2 will be pushed back to April 16 for a three-week hearing on the defence application for disclosure discussed in these pages and elsewhere.

That decision came after lengthy submissions by defence lawyers on the challenges facing them and their frustration with a lack of disclosure of evidence from the Crown.

How long will this case take once it gets underway? Well, the best indication came when Justice Bennett told the lawyers she is scheduled to teach a legal course in the second week of July but will forego it if required by the trial!

Defence lawyers and the special prosecutor will appear before Justice Bennett again at 9:30 a.m. on April 2 to discuss progress in trial preparation and motions.

The defence will file Charter of Rights applications - which could determine if a trial even takes place - on April 13.

A hearing on those applications is yet to be scheduled but will take place after the disclosure hearing.

And Justice Bennett raised another issue at the start of the hearing - that she read the details of the defence disclosure application in the Globe and Mail newspaper while she was in Quebec before she had ever seen the application itself as the presiding judge.

Bennett also pointed out that she had received a letter from a citizen concerned that he could not get access to the defence disclosure application at the BC Supreme Court registry.

Bennett said she would be conducting the trial in the most open manner possible.

Robin Mathews, a retired professor of Canadian Studies who has been following and reporting on the trial online, told me that he was the letter writer and was pleased that Justice Bennett had acknowledged the problem.

I have filed a story for 24 hours newspaper for Thursday's edition and may have more to report here and elsewhere in the days ahead.


BC Mary said...


Do you ever get the feeling that it's really, really important for journalists to go into these Supreme Court conferences and -- by your presence -- remind the Judge and the lawyers that you're there on behalf of the people of B.C., who are watching and waiting and seriously in need of some answers?

One letter from a citizen (Robin Mathews) gets the documents opened up for public viewing. A dozen journalists gets the message across that there's the public interest to be served here.

Thanks for all your work on this story. Thanks too for sharing the information. It's much appreciated.

BC Mary.
The Legislature Raids

Gazetteer said...

Would be interested to hear from legal beagles and/or Mary's Anon-O-Mice if a three week long period to hear a "defence application for disclosure" is usual, longer than usual, or completely business unusual.