Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Basi-Virk trial will run for 6 months judge estimates in BC Supreme Court Tuesday

Basi-Virk trial slated for six months



The breach of trust charges against former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk will take as much as six months of court time, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett said Tuesday.

"I have arbitrarily set 120 days for this trial. I've seen the witness list," Bennett said.

Bennett also agreed to a defence request to delay the start of a defence disclosure application that begins the case by two days, from April 16 to 18.

Bennett will hear the trial that arises from the police raid on the B.C. Legislature Dec. 28, 2003 and subsequent allegations that Basi and Virk provided confidential government information about the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail to lobbyists representing one of the bidders.

Outside the courtroom Basi's lawyer, Michael Bolton, said Bennett was using "an abundance of caution" in scheduling 120 court days, which means about six calendar months for the trial.

But Bolton also said it was possible the trial could conclude in October.

Bennett also asked defence lawyers if they objected to her continuing as trial judge after noting that she had taught a legal advocacy course at the University of B.C.

Defence has raised an issue over special prosecutor Bill Berardino's role in teaching the same course because key Crown witness Erik Bornmann was in the classroom as a law student after Basi and Virk were charged.

Bolton quickly told Bennett the defence would not be seeking to disqualify her as trial judge.

Bennett did not say whether Bornmann had been in her class.


Anonymous said...

Bill any sightings of Brian Kieran or his business manager and promoter Paul Taylor?

Mark said...


Erik Bornmann was taught by Bill Berardino during the investigation in 2004, NOT after Basi and Virk were charged.

Go to google video and search "Bill Berardino". You will find some relevant clips that raise questions about the UBC Law School course.

After reading about the Judge asking if she should recuse herself, she obviously has a great deal of integrity.

For Berardino to have put himself in such a situation that he taught the star witness in the middle of the investigation, is another twist for Project Everywhichway.

Any interaction with someone linked to this scandal during the RCMP investigation is troubling. It is obvious that Basi and Virk were not as fortunate to share a professor/ student relationship as star witness Bornmann had with Berardino.

Meaghan Champion said...

Bill, my hearing is really bad, I'm mostly deaf in one ear, and partially deaf in the other...(part of why I fell asleep) so I missed a lot of what was said yesterday.. but wasn't there also something about the judge ordering the prosecution to produce all documents that the defendants lawyers wanted by 12:00 that day? -- or did I mishear?

Tom said...

6 months!!!! What did basi and virk do, steal a big chunk of the 1 billion dollars the government received for bc rail!! I can't wait for this trial to begin.

BC Mary said...

Bill, thanks for every nugget of information you can set before the wearily waiting citizens of British Columbia.

But a question: have you heard one section of the peanut gallery insisting that the Basi, Virk, Basi, BC Rail trial is NOT beginning on 18 April? And that it will be weeks -- maybe months away yet?

The way I figure it is that SOMEthing starts on Wednesday: a voir dire, more requests for disclosure, a charter challenge ... but in my mind's eye, I picture it all sliding seamlessly into the trial phase. Is that how you see this case unfolding?

Bill Tieleman said...

Hi Mary and thanks for your question.

The definition of "trial" has been of some debate and media at the last pre-trial hearing discussed it at some length outside the courtroom.

I'm no veteran courtroom reporter nor a Philadelphia lawyer but my view is that the trial starts April 18 with a series of defence motions.

First up is the defence disclosure application, which is expected to take up to 3 weeks.

Then the defence Charter of Rights application will follow. That application could potentially have the entire trial thrown out over the admissability of wiretap evidence, RCMP conduct and other allegations to be determined.

If the trial continues it will then move on to the case against the accused and their defence, witnesses and cross-examinations.

As noted, Justice Bennett has set aside what amounts to six months of court time but some veteran observer think the case could last far longer.

Given the incredible number of delays in even getting to trial, that doesn't sound far-fetched to me.

I hope that answers your question.

I will be in BC Supreme Court April 18 for the opening of the defence application and will be reporting for both 24 hours and The Tyee the next day.

I will also have a pre-trial advance article in Wednesday's 24 hours. Those pieces will be available right here as well.

Thanks again for your and everyone's interest - it's been a long time in coming and it will be a long time in following this fascinating and extremely important case.

Bill Tieleman said...

PS regarding comments by "Mark":

Basi and Virk were charged December 21, 2004.

I am unaware of exactly when the advocacy course was taught by Berardino - one night only apparently - but the Vancouver Sun says it was in 2004.

Nonetheless, I thank you for the clarification.

JS said...

Bill I was also curious about the trial and whether it was starting. The defence motions started in October. I have been told April 18 is just a continuation of this process. The actual "trial" is anybodies guess. So far we have had 6 trial dates set and then changed.