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Supreme Court of Canada decision on secret witness issue in Basi-Virk to come

The most anticipated decision in the BC Rail corruption case of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi will come this Thursday at 6:45 a.m. BC time from the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Court has announced today that it will release its ruling on Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino's appeal of two BC lower court decisions on the issue of a secret witness and how his or her testimony should be handled.

Berardino hinted at one point the trial might not go ahead if the identity of a secret informant could not be fully protected, stating he would not violate the privilege of the witness to remain unknown.

"This Crown will not breach this privilege in this case ... we will not resile from this position," Berardino said last year. He has since said the prosecution will do everything it can to proceed regardless of how the Supreme Court of Canada rules.

The earlier rulings by former Basi-Virk trial judge Elizabeth Bennett and the BC Court of Appeal went against Berardino's request that the court be cleared of not only the public and media but defence counsel as well - leaving just the judge and Special Prosecutor team to discuss why the secret witness's identity and testimony requires as much protection as has only rarely been given - most recently in the Air India trial.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments from both Berardino and defence lawyers on April 22, 2009.

Visit this website Thursday morning for the decision and full analysis of what it means for the likelihood of the trial proceeding.

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in Vancouver 24 hours. E-mail him at [email protected] or visit his blog at

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