Monday, June 09, 2008

Basi-Virk - Secret witness appeal by Crown not in camera after all

TUESDAY UPDATE - Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail newspaper reports Tuesday that the Basi-Virk case could be dropped by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino if the BC Court of Appeal upholds a decision allowing defence counsel to hear testimony from a secret witness.

Mark reports: "It is unclear whether the prosecution of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi could continue without the evidence, which is contained in several restricted documents drawn from the notebook of the lead RCMP investigator in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the B.C. Legislature in 2003."

Monday's item:

Every indication was that today's BC Court of Appeal hearing on the issue of whether a secret Crown witness should give testimony in the Basi-Virk case without the defence lawyers present would take place without the media or the public in the courtroom.

But that didn't turn out to be the case - and unfortunately I was not able to be present.

Canadian Press is reporting that Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino argued that BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett - presiding over the trial of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi in the BC Legislature Raid case - erred in ruling that the defence lawyers could be present to hear the testimony of a secret witness, who has been described as a police informant.

Bennett ruled that the defence lawyers could attend the testimony, while media and the public would be excluded.

Berardino is appealing that ruling.

Berardino, CP reports, said that if Bennett's ruling was upheld it would have a "chilling effect" on all police informants.

"The negative consequences are too great," he said, adding that asking defence lawyers to sign an undertaking to ensure confidentiality isn't good enough.

The appeal continues Tuesday and Wednesday.

I hope to attend at least part of Tuesday's hearing.


Gary E said...

I suppose Bill, that we just can't beleive what indicators are put out there. This is not the first time this has happened.

Sort of like almost everything so far that has come out of the Premiers mouth. The opposite happens.

Anonymous said...

Bernardo is certainly working for his wages.

Anonymous said...

Bernardo is working for the taxpayers of BC and should conduct himself accordingly.

Just who is he protecting with this appeal?

Anonymous said...

The English Language falls short in the contempt I have for "our" Democracy and Judicial System . . . so here goes the profanity . . . &&&& %%%% ######## & @@@@@@ !


Anonymous said...

This really makes no sense. Protecting witnesses from the lawyers for the defence has star chamber written all over it. While I can see keeping an informant out of the public realm, undertakings of non-disclosure by the counsels should be enough to ensure anonymity. NOT allowing attendance by the defence would be a fundamental breach of the principles of natural justice.

Looks to me like Bernadino is simply concocting a way to make this whole affair disappear.