Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Basi-Virk anniversaries in December show importance of case - including break-in to my office 1 year ago today

Bill Tieleman after December 2, 2007 break-in through the ceiling and trashing of his office.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday December 2, 2008

Why the Basi-Virk case still matters

By BILL TIELEMAN

All sides in a trial want to hide at least some of the truth.

- Alan M. Dershowitz, law professor

There are two anniversaries in December relating to the longest-running political scandal in provincial history - the B.C. Legislature Raid case.

The first is a scandal itself.

Dec. 28, 2003 marks five years since the unprecedented police raid of the Legislature, and yet the trial of former B.C. Liberal government aides David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - facing corruption charges related to the $1 billion B.C. Rail privatization - has not started.

The second anniversary shows why this case is very important: Overnight on Dec. 2 last year,
my office was broken into and trashed, with a clear message that it was because of my Basi-Virk coverage.

Here's why the fate of B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell is very much in the balance depending on when - and if - this case is ever heard.

The Legislature raid to seize files and computers belonging to David Basi and Virk began as a drug investigation, expanding to a breach of trust and fraud case due to wiretap evidence.

The allegations against Basi and Virk are simple - that they were bribed to provide confidential government documents to lobbyists hired by a B.C. Rail bidder, OmniTRAX. Aneal Basi allegedly laundered bribe money.

The two lobbyists - Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran - became key Crown witnesses against the accused and do not face criminal charges.

A simple case - did Basi, Virk and Basi do what they are charged with?
But the route to trial is anything but simple.

The evidence gathered in the Legislature and through wiretaps is subject to a variety of types of "privilege," including Parliamentary privilege, solicitor-client privilege, litigation privilege and police techniques privilege.

That has led to years of pre-trial hearings over what evidence can or should be disclosed and a wide-ranging disclosure order from B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who is trying the case, which resulted in production of more than 300,000 pages of evidence.

The defence alleges in court that some evidence backs up their central argument - that the RCMP "tailored and targeted" Basi and Virk and avoided investigating B.C. Liberal cabinet ministers, including Basi's boss, former Finance Minister Gary Collins.

The court also heard lengthy allegations that political dirty tricks by the B.C. Liberals were coordinated directly out of Campbell's office.

If proven true in a trial where documents are produced and testimony heard, that alone could change the course of the provincial election.

But a prosecution
appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada to try keeping one witness' identity secret means the trial can't likely start before the May 2009 election.

And that's scandalous.

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bill,

Please continue to ask the tough questions of the special prosecutor. He is delaying this case in order to appeal the decision of two courts. It is scandalous.

I wonder if Berardino will not allow the SCC hearings to be televised as is normal practice of the court? At least we could get a sense of what the issue around this witness is....

PG

BC Mary said...

PG,

What a welcome idea. For those of us who cannot attend the pre-trial hearings in Vancouver, it would be extremely informative to be able to see televised sessions "our" (haha) Special Prosecutor at work in the Supreme Court of Canada ...

Bill,

Would you mind if I take this opportunity to explain to those readers who visit my blog that there have been technical difficulties the past week.

Those who are using Firefox, Safari, Opera, etc., seem to get through OK simply by clicking OK on the annoying message box.

Those who use Internet Explorer are having the problems.

I'm still posting, and hope to see folks there as usual, very soon. Thanks, Bill.

The Legislature Raids
http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Maybe its a big government conspiracy coupled with collusion from the major media companies to keep your blog silent Mary!!

Anonymous said...

Congrats on the outstanding job reporting on the most important story in BC's history. We can only hope it will come to some sort of a conclusion, with gordo in jail. Justice will be then served.

DPL said...

My gosh, has it been a year since the breakin? a local watergate right here in Vancouver. I might ask if anyone found out who did it? The probrable answer is no.

This court case has more twists and turns than I figured were possible. Hopefull the judge will get some movement soon. The three gys charged must have seperate sources of income to keep food on the table. Justice delayed, justice denied might slip right into the mix.
For a unpaid job, you sure spend a lot of hours watching and lsitening for us all. Thanls for the efforts Bill

kootcoot said...

DPL said :

"(regarding the defendants) The three gys charged must have seperate sources of income to keep food on the table."

I've always assumed that silence has its price - or to put it another way, brings it own rewards!

kootcoot said...

Sorry for not including this before, but I would like to point out to DPL that I think Bill does get paid for writing and communicating, unlike say BC Mary. I wouldn't think he gets paid overly much, or even enough though, for the difficult job he does. It couldn't be easy being one of the few genuine journalists in British Columbia with a platform - and having one's office broken into is just another part of the territory.

Too bad that J-School isn't staffed with Bill T's, instead of the likes of Kirk 'Pointy' LaPointe, teaching young aspiring journalists how to fill column inches with zero information that matters.

DPL said...

Kool Koot. I never suggested Bill didn't get paid for his regular work but every hour he spends in the courtroom or just outside it, are hours he isn't spending at his regular job working for companies and unions and whomever else. Just who do you figure is paying him for his time in court as an observer? He does have a business so sure he does a good job and I don't shill for him or anyone else.I do appreciate his efforts taking the time keeping us informed on his blog

woody said...

Bill receives three and a half a day for his services----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Three square meals and half of the bed.

Anonymous said...

Bill, why did Berardino announce the appeal to the SCC with only the Van Sun?

Did the Sun get the exclusive on the news that the SCC would hear Berardino's appeal in APRIL??

Something doesn't add up here. I hope that people understand that Berardino could have truly "expedited" this appeal if he wanted. Rather than mere weasel words, actions speak louder than his spin.

The appeal was granted on Nov 27. He can file his factum within 30 days. Then the defence can file within 30 days of that. This appeal could have been heard in Feb 2009!

No wonder he chose to take out the trash on a Friday night with the Van Sun - he wanted to avoid the tough questions.

Berardino deserves a lump of coal in his stocking this Christmas.

DPL said...

The Supreme Court of canada will hear the appeal in April. I forgot the date but it's easy to find at their website

BC Mary said...

.
Anonymous 6:46,

That's incredible ... absolutely unbelievable, what you say:

Berardino could have truly "expedited" this appeal if he wanted. Rather than mere weasel words, actions speak louder than his spin.

The appeal was granted on Nov 27. He can file his factum within 30 days. Then the defence can file within 30 days of that. This appeal could have been heard in Feb 2009!


As if the people of B.C. and the Accused haven't waited long enough.

Someone should report this to the Law Society.

.

Anonymous said...

The date of Berardino's appeal is not on the SCC website. Check your facts.

DPL said...

Canada’s top court will hear appeal in Basi-Virk case on April 22. Try the Vancouver Sun Neil Hall wrote the piece.
I'm not in the business of hand feeding anyone folks, nor am I a journalist or expert on the case. I can read. Sorry anon,as I mention I'm simply passing along some information. You want to know, go find it.
I'm in no mood to argue with other posters. I prefer to simply read what Bill writes.

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks for all the kind comments on my coverage of Basi-Virk - it is truly greatly appreciated.

To answer a few questions posed:

- Both the defence and Special Prosecutor asked for an expedited process for the Supreme Court of Canada hearing as I understand it

- I do get paid for covering the pre-trial hearings by 24 hours and The Tyee but quite honestly it does not cover the time spent, so I do my regular work in mornings and evenings. Not complaining - this case is important and I have the privilege of being able to be there most of the time to report on it.

- Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun deserves credit for following the Supreme Court of Canada website for notice of the hearing date and/or checking with legal counsel in the case - that is how he found out. I could have done the same but have been incredibly busy and am therefore behind.

Look for a Basi-Virk update here soon.

But don't expect a televised court appearance in the case ever - not going to happen!

Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

The BB&V guys are back in court at 10 today Monday.