Monday, February 08, 2010

Long-awaited BC Rail corruption case will start in late April or sooner for 8 to 10 weeks; likely to be heard by jury


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.

David Basi and Virk face breach of trust and fraud charges for allegedly accepting benefits from lobbyists representing one of the bidder for BC Rail in exchange for providing confidential provincial government information about the sale. Aneal Basi faces money laundering charges connected to the alleged payment of benefits.

Lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran of the now-defunct Pilothouse Public Affairs company will both testify as key Crown witnesses and do not face charges themselves. OmniTRAX, the US-based railway company they were retained by, face no charges and has denied any wrongdoing.


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


BC Mary said...

THAT is the headline we've all been waiting for, Bill.

Is it really and truly going to happen? Good luck on Wednesday!

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Mary and you bet!

Anonymous said...

I will believe it when I see it. Don't get ahead of yourself, after 7 years another delay is very possible.

citizen queen said...

I'm with anon 1:48,
this too, can be a kangaroo (we'll never know who really done it).If the fix is in, will see more then one silver tongued devil, stretch their 15 minutes of shame,I mean fame?

cfvua said...

Good work Mr. Tieleman. Journalists like yourself deserve a pat on the back and more for not allowing these things to get swept under the carpet. Now if we could get you interested in subsidies to oil and gas producers in BC and who is counting them.......

North Van's Grumps said...

Start of trial late April, let's say May, plus 8 to 10 weeks... June to July possibly mid August... does the Supreme Court recess for vacations....

The defense is now calling for trial by Jury. Boy am I glad that I voted in the last Provincial election, I might get called to be on that jury. Selection is another matter though especially since I've been sitting in on the court procedures, twice.

Skookum1 said...

Who do you think is the other third party than Kinsella, Bill? McLean? Would seem natural it would be.....

Or the "delegate from OmniTRAX", whomever that might be?

"communications between [BC Liberal] MLAs" seems to cover a lot of ground. If Nettleton's right and collusion is involved in the course of fraud, shouldn't those emails have already been under police warrant? Oh, maybe they were huh? - but "no elected officials" were to be investigated. Only the political henchmen charged with managing the Premier's agenda in ministerial offices, the irony being that MLAs are only rubber-stamp yes-persons and the real power is in political appointees under the direction of the Premier and his personal staff.....

Maybe that other third party is, er, someone from the Premier's Office?

Anonymous said...

This great news that this case is finally going to trial. Interesting that the accused is asking for trial by jury and not judge alone. They can only hope they get some NDP’ers on the jury panel.

zebraeye said...

I love this!! Squirm. I love that word. Well it's all coming back at ya. Squirm baby squirm. Morally corrupt.Obviously most of us know how we feel about B.C. lieberals. We don't! Now the courts are going to drive you away from being the gate keepers from hell. There will be know disputing the out come. For the last eight years I have spent some quality of my life thinking about how we are being sold out. To be frank, to much thinking about the gouging tactics of B.C. lieberals. And I resent it big time. I ask the powers that be help give me peace of mind and send these hade hordes back into hell where they belong. May God have mercy on your souls. You trolls.