Today a question for the prosecutor in the Basi Virk trial and a letter to the Vancouver Sun.
Prosecutor Bill Berardino says, in the Basi/Virk trial, that he didn’t see the “deal” until the morning it all happened. Here is a direct quote:
Berardino said outside court that he didn’t see a copy of the agreed statement of facts, signed by the Crown and defence, until 9:40 a.m. — 20 minutes before court was scheduled to resume hearing the testimony of a witness. Asked if there was any government pressure to end the trial, which had so far contained embarrassing allegations for the B.C. Liberal Party, Berardino said: “This is my decision. I made it on my own by myself”.
Mr. Berardino, if you didn’t make the decision, then who the Hell did? You were Crown Counsel and in your own words had complete control of the matter. Someone had to make this deal behind closed doors which you signaled about 10 days ago when you announced that you had shortened the list of witnesses.
Was it the Attorney-General or someone in his ministry that did the deal? Was it someone from the Premier’s office? Was it someone else on behalf of the government?
Mr. Berardino, this deal didn’t just float down the river on a piece of bark. Are you saying, perhaps, that the angel Gabriel made another trip to earth and gave you this deal?
This is a simple question, sir – you had to approve the deal at the very last minute. Who instructed you to do it?
Will you give your word of honour that from start to finish the government stayed right out of this case and by that I mean did members of the government, such as the Attorney-General or any representative of the government ever talk to you or in any way communicate with you about this case at any time? Did you ever give them a summary of what was happening? To whom did you report?
You, sir, were a special prosecutor, and had complete carriage of the matter (in the clumsy phrase we lawyers use) so that if you didn’t negotiate the deal, and if it wasn’t communicated to you until the day of the cop-out, this simple question – who made the deal and who gave you instructions to implement it?
Oh, yes, either the judge agreed with most unseemly haste with this awful cop-out. Was she part of it going back at least as far as your announcement that the witness list would be shortened? What role did she play in the negotiations and if it wasn’t with you involved, who was? Are you asking us to believe that she was surprised when the deal was announced and took no part in a deal that compelled her to assess mild penalties?
This is a public matter with your fee as well as many millions of dollars spent on the case paid for by the taxpayers and they’re entitled to answers to the questions above.
I guarantee that your reply will, like this note, be sent to my entire address book, and posted to rafeonline.com.
Over to you, Mr. Berardino, special prosecutor working on behalf of the citizens of BC.
Letter to Fazil Mihlar, editorial page editor for the Vancouver
Dear Mr. Mihlar,
Your editorial in the Vancouver Sun, October 19, 2010, was an utter disgrace and you and your paper owe the RCMP an unqualified apology. To blame this tawdry Basi-Virk deal on bad police work is, sir, disgusting.
It’s true that an RCMP statement back at the beginning, “it was a cancer eating away at the social and moral fabric of British Columbia” might have been unwise hyperbole.
One the other hand it could have been true and I suggest to you, Mr Mihlar that we’ll never know because members of the government including the premier did not have to testify.
You say “They (police) may have been sniffing but based on the evidence that came out in court, they found nothing to back their allegations beyond the charges that were ultimately laid.” (my emphasis)
How in hell can you say that when the key witnesses who could have been asked the appropriate questions were all shielded by a cop-out?
Why don’t you ask why the politicians past and present were, in effect, protected, not blame the police because the prosecutor pulled the rug from under them?
We, the journalist deprived public, have been treated by your paper to one weasily defence of the Campbell government after another. You’ve stonewalled the fish farm case giving the industry and their flacks almost carte blanche to use your op-ed page and a shrill sheet.
With the exception of the occasional article by Scott Simpson you haven’t said a word about the sell out and ruination of our rivers and bankrupting BC Hydro in the bargain.
Mr. Mihlar, we know one another from your days as a guest on my radio show where you peddled your far right wing views in your capacity as a “Fellow” of the Fraser Institute. Evidently those views have been carried onto the Editorial and op-ed of your newspaper.
I have done many editorials critical of the police and my readers know that and can vouch for it. But to criticize the RCMP because Bill Berardino, QC, pulled the rug on the Basi-Virk case before any cabinet ministers before or now, and the premier, were examined and cross examined, is unfair in the extreme and you and the Vancouver Sun ought to withdraw from that disgusting editorial and make a full apology.
Yours very truly,