Thursday, November 27, 2008

BASI-VIRK: Supreme Court of Canada to hear Special Prosecutor appeal to overturn secret witness ruling - will delay trial up to 1 year

BASI-VIRK - Trial likely delayed up to one year

The Supreme Court of Canada today granted the Special Prosecutor leave to appeal two lower BC court rulings regarding testimony of a secret witness in the BC Legislature Raid case.

The decision will likely delay by up to a year the start of the trial of former BC Liberal government aides David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi on corruption charges related to the 2003 privatization of BC Rail.

No reasons for granting leave were given by the Court.

The central issue is whether defence lawyers for the accused can be present in the courtroom to hear arguments as to whether a secret witness will give testimony in the trial.

The Crown argued that no one but Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and his legal team and BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett should be permitted to hear the evidence, with defence lawyers, media and the public excluded in order to protect the identity of the witness.

But Bennett ruled the defence could be present for initial arguments provided they give an undertaking not to disclose any information discussed in court with anyone, including their clients.

The BC Court of Appeal upheld Bennett's ruling in a split 2-1 decision when Berardino appealed, leading the Special Prosecutor to seek leave to appeal at the country's highest court.

David Basi and Virk face breach of trust charges for alleging providing confidential government information about bids for BC Rail to lobbyist Erik Bornmann, who was then employed by one of the bidders. Aneal Basi is charged with money laundering for allegedly being a conduit for payments.

A police investigation originally connected to Victoria drug dealing eventually expanded into a full-blown political corruption case, culminating in a raid on the BC Legislature on December 28, 2003.

Basi, Virk and Basi were charged in 2004 but the case has been plagued by lengthy pre-trial hearings on disclosure of evidence to the defence. The province and RCMP have resisted disclosing some evidence for a variety of reasons, including cabinet privilege, solicitor-client privilege, informer privilege and secrecy required regarding police techniques.

A pre-trial hearing on vetting more than 300 RCMP documents continues today at BC Supreme Court and is unaffected by today's Supreme Court of Canada judgment.

But Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino and defence lawyers must now confer with BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, who is hearing the case, about whether any other pre-trial motions can continue prior to the secret witness issue being adjudicated by the Supreme Court of Canada.

In July, Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough told me outside the court that an appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada would result in a significant delay to the start of the trail.

"If the Special Prosecutor appeals this matter to the Supreme Court of Canada it's going to impact and delay this case," McCullough said. "We are hoping that doesn't happen."

"Our clients are anxious to get on - they've had their lives on hold for four and a half years and any further delay is something that neither counsel nor their clients are looking forward to. I hope it doesn't happen," he said in July.

The short text of the Supreme Court of Canada ruling means a long delay in the trial. Here is that announcement:


Her Majesty the Queen v. Bobby Singh Virk et al. (B.C.) (Criminal) (By Leave) (32719)

The motions to expedite the application for leave to appeal and to seal the responses by the respondents Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi and Bobby Singh Virk are granted. The application for leave to appeal and the applications for leave to cross-appeal are granted.

Coram: McLachlin / Fish / Rothstein"


Anonymous said...

WE ONLY CHEAT WHEN WE CAN'T WIN . . . Liberal motto

get used to it Bill, "we" always win either at the ballot box or the Swiss bank account.


Anonymous said...

This is a sad day for many reasons. Justice delayed is Justice denied.

It appears Bill Berardino and the rcmp have been successful in their attempts to drag this out and now it appears likely - kill this trial altogether.

In typical fashion they have set this up so its the judges who take the blame, not an imcompetent special prosecutor or an equally incompetent and corrupt rcmp. Its always easy to blame the judges!!

The rcmp spin machine is already perfecting their spin, briefing notes are being prepared, meetings are being held (no notes from these meetings - we wouldn't want these sensitive discussions being put to paper especially after the "DO NOT DISCLOSE" fiasco where the tape was turned off and a "private discussion" entered into by the investigator and kelly reichart)>

Justice isn't blind Bill, there is a hold in the scarf that covers her eyes!!

Anonymous said...

Going back to BC, would be like walking into a death camp!

Anonymous said...

The odds makers were right. Now we can venture a guess as to when the case will be heard.

No doubt, another election will have passed before the people of BC have heard the facts.

Bill Berardino will continue to bill his hourly retainer without consequence.

Anonymous said...

I told,the special witness is a straw man argument.

Without the special witness the trial could start,maybe!

With another year delay a motion will be put foward by the defence arguing undue delay,and will ask and receive a dismissal.

Like I posted yesterday we would be better served with a dismissal today,then someone can publish their book or perhaps we could have a public inquiry.

If there really was a special witness the defence and prosecution would of figured out who it is by now,therefore there would be no reason not to bring him or her foward,they would have been identified!

Do you people not realize that the defence and the prosecution in this case are on the same side!

World war 2 was won faster,how many truck loads of eveidence did the Pickton trial have?

Please I implore,drop the case,lets get on with it, what is the purpose,these bozo`s are merely low level urchins.

Maybe with a dismissal this so-called secret witness will decide to come forward. Personaly I don`t believe this witness exists.

If this witness did exist,does he or she really think that if their evidence brought down the goverment and exposed all these corrupt deeds of the BC LiberaLS THAT THE IDENTITY WOULD NOT COME OUT?

What a bunch of gullibles.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 12:56;

You must have been on Mars to insinuate that the defence and the prosecution are together on this delay. Tell me, have you read any of the defence submissions, have you attended court, have you witnessed the beating the defence lawyers have inflicted on this patetic special prosecutor and the rcmp?

Anonymous said...

Defence are allowed to cross appeal? I guess that means the defence get a chance to defends Justice Bennett decision?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for maintaining watch on the courts over this, Bill. A message from BC Mary sent me to your blog today. With all that has transpired over the last 7.5 years, can BC legitimately call itself a democracy? Between the BC Liberals' nearly eliminating our freedom to have unadulterated or unsanitized information about what they do and don't do and the very one-sided mainstream media, I fear the public remains mostly clueless. Of the people I talk with regarding the Trial Basi and Virk, the vast majority don't know what it is about. This is also true of the myriad of other serious issues that we face as a result of the Campbell government.

Best Wishes to you, Bill.
Sharing is Good

Anonymous said...

Delay...Delay....delay...What else can this be but a measure to make sure the BC Liberals survive May 2009 election. The fix is in.

hydr0l1c5 said...

It is January 1, 2009. I predict that this casev will never go to trial. Therefore I suggest that Mr. Tielman expose the secret witness. Name him, or her, publicly. If you do, he will do nothing. If he, or she, is offended then they should take Bill to court and that way we will know who this secret witness is.
I suspect Mr. Tielman knows who it is.
Let's hear it Bill.
Mike Boileau