Wednesday, February 10, 2010

May 3 marks start of Basi-Virk - BC Legislature Raid case trial at last! Trial by jury will finish by June 30

First meeting - Bill Tieleman meets David Basi for the first time ever and more than 6 years after he began covering the BC Legislature Raid case. But Basi declined to comment on any aspects of the case, leaving that to his lawyer Michael Bolton.

BC Rail corruption case to start May 3, end by June 30, BC Supreme Court justice decides

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

The trial of three former provincial government aides facing corruption charges connected to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail in 2003 will begin May 3 and end by June 30, a B.C. Supreme Court justice decided Wednesday.

Justice Anne MacKenzie also agreed to a request by defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi to have the case heard by judge and jury, with jury selection on April 28.

David Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton said outside court that his clients want the change from trial by judge only because: “The high degree of public interest in this case requires a trial by jury.”

New Democrat MLA Leonard Krog says the trial is “long overdue” coming over six years after police raided the B.C. Legislature to obtain evidence.

“British Columbians want to know what happened in the sale of B.C. Rail,” Krog said.

David Basi and Bob Virk appeared in court for the first time in years of pre-trial hearings, while Aneal Basi participated by video link from Montreal, where he works.

The three former BC Liberal government aides all verbally consented in court to the withdrawal of five different pre-trial applications and issues, the result of an agreement between their lawyers and Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.

But despite the agreement, defence and Crown sparred in court.
Berardino told MacKenzie the Crown felt that the defence applications were "unproven and without merit" in presenting the agreement.

That brought a rebuttal from Kevin McCullough, representing Virk.

"We'r not pursuing any further applications - there's a difference betwen the Crown's position and the defence - we don't agree that these applications are not meritorious," McCullough said, adding that some defence applications have been adjudicated in court and found to have considerable merit.

In fact, several defence applications for disclosure of evidence brought forward under previous case Justice Elizabeth Bennett were significant wins for the defence that produced tens of thousands of page of new documents.


In addition to jury selection on April 28, MacKenzie agreed all should return to court on Monday March 29 at 10 a.m. to set - if necessary - any pre-trial hearings brought by third parties regarding possible disclosure of evidence in open court.

McCullough suggested it was a good idea, as the defence has received over 5,000 emails in January and another 2,000 in the past week.

Berardino made clear that the email disclosure will not affect the time frame for the trial.

Outside court Bolton gave another reason for going to trial by jury.

"It's often said that innocent people preferred to be tried by a jury," Bolton said, looking at some handwritten notes as he spoke to reporters. "We feel this case is appropriate to be tried by a jury."

"There are no technical defences - these men are innocent," Bolton said.

Bolton also said the defence still has emails to come from BC Liberal MLAs and that the disclosure McCullough referred to was from the Executive Branch of the provincial government.

A version of this story will be published in 24 hours newspaper Thursday February 10.


DPL said...

So some real movement in events. The accused dresses well for someone who has no job. He looks well fed as well and soon we will know the results of the case

Anonymous said...

June 30th may be the final day, but as to whether that will be the end of the proceedings...... time will tell after the civil court case is completed if the defendants are found not guilty.

BC Mary said...


Thanks for this, Bill.

Yesterday on my blog, I said Feb. 10/10 would be different because we'd see two new men we barely know, but with very familiar names in court.

I said I wanted to know more about Dave Basi and Bobby Virk ... like, how are they? Do they have jobs? Would we feel as if real people are joined with us all in this investigation (as I see it) into what went wrong with BC Rail.

Well, that photo answered a lot of questions. Not enough, but some. Thanks for that.

Bill Tieleman said...

To Mary and others - I did ask the question of Basi & Virk's lawyers as to what they have been doing to get by - they declined to comment but I can tell you that it has not been an easy time - as would be clear for anyone facing serious charges in the public spotlight for 6 years.

Deep Throat said...

Well Mr. Premier are you up for the game called; “Let’s play chicken”?

Anonymous said...

Question for DPL. You made the comment about dressing well for someone who has no job. Were you referring to Basi or Tieleman ?

Crankypants said...

I am glad that they chose to have the trial in front of a jury. This means there will be 12 witnesses hearing the testimony brought forth and less chance for details to be swept under the rug.

However this could also be a two-edged sword. I am sure that there are a number of people that do not want their dirty laundry exposed and seeing that most of them are well connected, one can assume that they will do whatever they can to short-circuit the system. That is they will do whatever they can to see that a trial never occurs.

They have just under 3 months to make this happen and I would not be surprised to see an out-of-court settlement before the first witness is heard.

Yogi Berra stated that "it ain't over until is's over", but in this case "it ain't started until the court clerk states court is in session".


DPL said...

Anon 11:57 was sort of cute. We all know Teileman has a number of jobs and you know that too. If I was unemployed for around 6 years and counting like the accused I don't think I could dress as spiffy as Basi. Heck UI would have run out, and of course welfare in beutiful BC doesn't pay enough to eat and have a place to sleep. But BC can still pay to airlift snow to the big circus

Anonymous said...

I'd like to be a fly on dohms wall right now!