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RCMP Witness Protection

RCMP forks over $65,000 to help deadbeat dad

The RCMP witness protection program used taxpayer money to cover $65,000 in child-support arrears for a witness who never testified against three Hells Angels because he lied to police, court heard yesterday.

And before making the city man's tardy maintenance payments, the program paid for a lawyer to try to get the arrears either wiped out or the payments reduced.

"In other words, they hired a lawyer for a deadbeat dad to take food out of the mouths of children," said Bill Tatarchuk, defence lawyer for one of the three Hells Angels, two of whom are members of the local chapter.

Court also heard that once the RCMP learned the lawyers for the outlaw bikers had discovered the court file, an application to seal it was successfully made before a judge.

Defence lawyer Bob Sachs said the file was sealed because officials with the witness protection program were embarrassed by what they'd done and didn't want to "get whacked" in the House of Commons.

"They should get whacked in the House of Commons for helping a deadbeat dad take the food out of the mouths of children," said Sachs. "It's reprehensible behaviour."

The lawyers for the three Hells Angels were in Court of Queen's Bench seeking court costs for their clients in a case where charges against them were dropped in relation to an alleged 1998 robbery and extortion.

Deveron McKay, 52, the founder of the Edmonton Hells Angels chapter, Neil Cantrill, 44, a local member, and Allen Farago, 39, a Hells Angel from Saskatoon, were charged in May 1998 after the man said the trio held him against his will, using threats and violence to make him hand over his truck and trailer to clear up a debt.

The charges were stayed by the Crown in September after evidence revealed the deadbeat dad had lied to police.

Tatarchuk told Justice Joanne Veit they are seeking costs from both the federal and provincial Crowns because they failed to disclose defence-requested information about the man and the witness protection program.

During his argument, Tatarchuk revealed Ottawa spent $362,000 on the man while he was in the witness protection program, including the $65,000 for child maintenance, nearly $225,000 in living expenses and $72,000 for protective reasons, such as medical and counselling.

Tatarchuk also told Veit the defence never received disclosure that the man was charged with several crimes while in the program, including assault causing bodily harm for attacking a girlfriend during a drinking binge.

Defence lawyer Richard Gariepy said that also not disclosed was the fact the man got preferential treatment by not having most of the charges proceeded on.

"He was the linchpin witness in a high-profile case against members of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club," said Gariepy. "That's why he got preferential treatment."

Tatarchuk concluded: "This is a case that cries out for costs against both the federal and provincial Crowns."

Federal prosecutor David Stam argued costs should not be awarded because those involved were simply trying to protect the safety and integrity of the witness protection program. Prosecutor Clif Purvis argued the province shouldn't be on the hook because it did nothing terribly wrong and only tried to ensure the proper process was observed.

"There is nothing about the conduct of the attorney general Alberta that should attract costs," said Purvis.

Veit reserved judgment in the case.

Canadian Police urged citizenship for militant to please him

VANCOUVER, Feb 28 (UNI) In an attempt to retain him as a witness in the Air India bombing case, Canada's police even requested citizenship for a Sikh militant in order to keep him happy, according to released transcripts of pre-trial hearings.

The witness, a former member of the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) whose name was protected under a court order, had repeatedly told the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) investigating the worst case of aviation sabotage up until 9/11 that he would publicly announce his withdrawal unless he got citizenship, a Vancouver Sun report said today.

He was then granted landed immigrant status in June 2000 after the RCMP Commissioner vouched for him to the Immigration Minister, the news report added, citing transcripts of pre-trial hearings released this week from a ban on publication by Supreme Court Justice Ian Bruce Josephson.

Also, the former ISYF man was paid more than 100,000 dollars by the RCMP in recent years. At first, the monthly payments were 2,000 dollars, but were increased to 3,000 dollars in the summer of 2001, the Vancouver Sun reported.

However, his efforts to get citizenship were less successful, even with the help of senior law enforcement officials who wrote to the federal immigration department pressing for the man to be granted citizenship despite a criminal record.

The man, according to the transcripts cited in the news report, had claimed he feared for his family both in Canada and in India if he remained on the Air India witness list without the protection of Canadian citizenship.

At the pre-trial hearing, suspect Ajaib Singh Bagri's defence team took issue with the Crown's delay in disclosing the witness' reluctance to testify. Bagri's team has called the man "highly unreliable" and said his testimony is suspect given that he has been on the RCMP payroll.

The man told police that Bagri admitted his involvement in Air India to him in the early 1990s at a meeting outside a Surrey elementary school.

RCMP Staff-Sergeant John Schneider, who was the witness' main handler, testified last April that the man was very agitated because he felt he was in danger.

According to the report, Schneider's notes from November 27, 2001 said the witness arrived at the Surrey E Division office that day and was "very uncomfortable" about his information being recorded.

"It will bring more danger" Schneider's notes quote the witness as saying, according to the Vancouver Sun.

Police offered the man security, as well as the witness protection programme, but he said he felt Canadian citizenship would help him the most.