Trial by jury could begin earlier in April at judge's request
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
The trial of three men facing corruption charges in the B.C. Legislature raid case will begin in late April or sooner for eight to 10 weeks, a B.C. Supreme Court justice heard Monday.
And David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi – the three former B.C. Liberal government aides facing charges connected to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail in 2003 – want a jury trial, defence lawyers say.
Justice Anne MacKenzie said she wants the trial completed by summer, prompting Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino to suggest starting earlier in April might be possible.
Outside court Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, said: “The accused want a jury trial.”
Bolton also said the defence will not likely a change of venue to Victoria.
In court Berardino told MacKenzie that the defence and Crown had made further progress to attempt to eliminate all pre-trial motions.
Berardino said the exception was for a small number of pre-trial third party applications by those with an interest in the case.
Lawyer Ed Montague, representing 13 BC Liberal MLAs subject to a court disclosure order, appeared on their behalf Monday.
Montague said he has reviews summary descriptions of possible evidence before it is disclosed to the defence to determine if his clients wish to object.
"The general category is draft and pending legislation and communications between MLAs," Montague told MacKenzie.
Berardino said afterwards that there may still be one to three days of pre-trial hearings needed on third party applications regarding disclosure.
BC Rail lawyer Robert Deane told MacKenzie that his client has reviewed its database and the only possible outstanding evidence deals with documents where third parties may object to its disclosure but which have been made available to the defence.
"If the defence wants to use these documents in open court notice has to be given to two proponents who have claimed confidentiality," Deane said without naming the third parties.
Defence lawyers have alleged in court that Patrick Kinsella, former BC Liberal Party election co-chair in 2001 and 2005, was working for both BC Rail and CN Rail - the winning bidder in 2003 - at the same time.
Kinsella was paid $297,000 by BC Rail for "business advice" between 2001 and 2005.
The court will reconvene on Wednesday February 10 at 10 a.m. to set the trial date, with the accused required to be in court.
Aneal Basi's lawyer Joe Doyle requested that he be allowed to appear by video link from Montreal, where he is currently employed. MacKenzie agreed if that can be done - otherwise he must appear in person.
Outside court Bolton refused to speculate on why the defendants are requesting a jury trial nor would he suggest how many witnesses, if any, the defence would call, saying that would be made clear after the Crown has presented its case first.
Bolton called Berardino's suggestion the trial will take eight to 10 weeks to complete a "reasonable estimate" but would not say how long the defence would need to present its arguments.
Earlier in court provincial government lawyer George Copley requested and received two orders from MacKenzie regarding email backup tapes and privilege claims - both the Crown and defence consented.
A version of this story will be printed in Tuesday's 24 hours newspaper