Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Judge rips RCMP, Special Prosecutor in Basi-Virk disclosure decision

Judge laments lack of disclosure

Basi-Virk trial


B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett Monday ripped the RCMP and Special Prosecutor in the case against three provincial government aides facing serious criminal charges, saying there was a "substantial failure to respect the disclosure rights of the accused."

In a 37-page decision, Bennett criticized the RCMP and Special Prosecutor for not adequately disclosing evidence to the defence, who are countering charges that David Basi and Bob Virk were bribed to leak confidential government information on the $1-billion privatization of BC Rail to OmniTRAX, a bidder. Aneal Basi is charged with money laundering.

And Bennett granted every request made by defence lawyers, ordering the RCMP to produce notes, reports, e-mails and other documents and the Special Prosecutor to disclose details of an immunity agreement made with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, a former lobbyist. "The defence is entitled to disclosure in a timely fashion. This rather extensive review of the many problems with this case demonstrates that disclosure has not been sufficiently made in a timely way," Bennett said.

Outside court defence lawyers were smiling.

"We're very pleased with this result," said Michael Bolton, David Basi's lawyer. "Disclosure is absolutely critical to a fair trial."

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said the decision should force Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney-General Wally Oppal to answer questions arising from the testimony, including defence allegations that Basi worked with officials in the premier's office on media manipulation and dirty tricks.

"The pretence they continue to hold won't stand public scrutiny. They have to answer questions," Krog said outside the court.

Defence and Crown return to court Thursday to discuss further details of the case, including additional defence applications that could see the case dismissed.

No comments: