Major crimes: a week in review

(random scene of smashed cruisers)

And what a week it’s been.

Monday Tuesday started out with reporters still hung over on the second-degree murder verdict in the Mark Grant/Candace Derksen killing. A number of interesting details about what jurors didn’t hear emerged.

But shortly before noon that day, two Winnipeg police officers walked out of a Winnipeg courtroom acquitted on perjury charges based on either a fatal Crown error or a misunderstanding, depending on what side you’re on. When I checked Friday afternoon, no appeal had been filed yet. The ‘technical’ acquittal had some wondering what police were cheering about.

But while that was happening, troubling details about the sentence a young street-gang member may be about to get for murdering three people in one short, sharp go were emerging in a courtroom down the hall from the cheering officers. Justice Suche has some deciding to do over the weekend and we’ll know this week just when the killer will become eligible for parole. No matter how you slice it [4 years or  6.5 years] it seems low for the blood that was shed. However, it is just parole eligibility, meaning his potential freedom will be in the hands of the National Parole Board.

It was on this day that police announced they were searching for an elderly woman who was missing for several days. By Thursday, she had been found dead in her car miles from home, and according to some reports wrapped in a tarp and stuffed in the trunk. A hunt is now on for her killers, but police have not revealed the cause of death.

On Wednesday, The Freep’s @mikeoncrime tweeted this: “Reminded today I have the best job in terms of finding fascinating people and stories to write about. 2 big “talkers” in tomorrow’s paper.”

He was right about one of them — and likely only because that story so overshadowed the other in terms of attention, this one didn’t have a chance. I won’t add to the froth the first has caused, but wanted to say I always get leery when politicians and leaders make bold statements, condemnations and take action on decisions they likely haven’t even read. But, in some sense, I accept that they couldn’t be seen to say nothing. David Asper put on his lawyer hat and crafted an interesting letter to the editor in Saturday’s Freep.

The Sun’s Dean Pritchard had a solid story on what happened in a police-involved crash a number of months ago. I don’t recall police ever saying that a charge had been laid against an officer in connection to the case, which was a bizarre one. Lots of damage — and lots of luck no one was seriously hurt.

Interesting, underplayed story about former Hells Angel Michael Bandusiak being allowed time to go shopping and to do personal errands while he’s serving a conditional sentence. While some police were celebrating their colleagues acquittal, this decision had some others absolutely fuming, I’m told.

Kudos to CTV on their story about charges against Provincial Court Judge Brian Corrin.

However, this story had some police unconvinced about the merits of the new police helicopter tell me they’re warming up to the idea. Media allowed to take rides in the chopper this week. Multiple stories emerge. File footage you’ll see on TV newscasts for years now in place.

As well, this story about federal money for police promised by the federal government barely dented the weekend news. I get irked when important stories get buried on page B2.

Colleague Gosia Sawicka had a good story on a now-defunct Winnipeg travel agency that’s now under investigation.

If one looks big-picture, however, the #1 biggest crime and justice related story this week can be found in the WFP series on FASD. In my days spent sitting in youth [and adult] court, I can say no other issue seems to come up as frequently than this disorder. It weighs heavily on the justice system, and the costs are huge.

Stuff that didn’t make the news:

I’ve written a bit in the past about the trials and tribulations the Manitoba Islamic Association has been having over the last year or so. A development this week was that the now court-confirmed MIA president, Dr. Nasseer Warraich, has been cleared of criminal charges [Crown stayed them behind the scenes on Feb. 10] and in the wake of that, Warraich has filed a lawsuit against another MIA member for allegedly giving a false statement to police that resulted in his arrest and now-ended prosecution. Lawsuit is in its very early stages, no defence has been filed. Lawyer Marty Minuk is handling Warriach’s case.

Former Winnipeg daycare worker Joel Stubson made his first court appearance on a number of child pornography-related charges.

The trial for Michael Trakalo, the son of a now-retired Winnipeg drug investigator has been remanded (again). This time until April.

That’s it for now.

-30-

Judge rules in fractious Islamic Association case

(Google)

Over the last year, there’s been a heated feud at the Manitoba Islamic Association over who has control of the group’s executive.

After a June meeting where one side took control of the MIA, the ousted president filed a claim wanting the clarity from the courts regarding who has rightful control.

The other side filed a counter-claim, saying the political feud was sparked by actions outside the MIA’s constitution in January 2010, and prompted a “state of crisis” in the organization. This group believed the results of a by-election in June should stand.

You can read the background of it here.

A few days ago [decision released publicly today], Justice Perry Schulman of Manitoba’s Court of Queen’s Bench ruled that the ousted president, Dr. Nasseer Warriach, was lawfully elected in late 2009 and that his position as head of the group stands.

The full decision is here: Justice Schulman decision RE: MIA

I’m hoping the court’s ruling brings peace to the organization and its members. I wouldn’t be shocked, however, to see an appeal filed in short order.

UPDATE: The Manitoba Muslim magazine published an article on the litigation – estimating that legal fees for both sides ranged between $50-70,000.

The editor’s observations are also worth noting:

This conflict will go in MIA’s history as the most financially costly and organizationally challenging. …

Conflicts do happen in organizations, no organization is immune to that; MIA had it share in the past, however, most MIA conflicts were dealt with internally. This conflict, however, has spilled into the courts, media, police and the public in general in ways not experienced before.

With this conflict, MIA has lost its innocence and the internal mutual trust seriously undermined. Going forward, things will not be the same in MIA. What has happened can’t be reversed, but once the tension subsides, a careful analysis need to be done, with the aim of identifying the root cause of this conflict and establishing preventative measures to avert the recurrences of similar conflicts.

Key elements to any future reform should include the establishment of a mechanism of independent internal compliance review process to ensure that MIA affairs are conducted in accordance to the established rules and procedures, directions of the General Assembly, sound management practices and Islamic ethics.

Further to this, internal mechanisms of conflict resolution, mediation and arbitration must be established. The MIA constitution needs to be revised and amended.

Link is here: http://www.miaonline.org/files/manitoba-muslim/newsletter/mmm_Nov2010.pdf

-30-

PS — Sorry for the lack of updates in recent weeks. I have been swamped with work-related stuff.

Cheers