Prosecution of six charged in Tamils human smuggling case still in jeopardy

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

The MV Sun Sea cargo ship docked at CFB Esquimalt in Victoria, B.C., Aug. 17, 2010. Darren Stones/Times Colonist files

B.C.’s highest court has refused a bid by federal prosecutors to suspend a ruling that struck down Canada’s human smuggling law.

Friday’s decision by the B.C. Court of Appeal to decline a federal Crown application to issue a stay — or temporary suspension — of the ruling means that the prosecution of six Sri Lankan men charged with smuggling 492 Tamils into Canada remains in jeopardy.

In January, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman declared that the law was overly broad and unconstitutional and quashed charges against four Sri Lankan men accused of smuggling in 76 Tamils aboard the MV Ocean Lady in 2009.

That ruling also put into limbo the federal prosecution of the six men accused of smuggling in the 492 Tamils aboard the MV Sun Sea in 2010.

Judge Silverman suspended his declaration that the law was of no force and effect for 30 days to allow the Crown to seek the stay of the declaration pending an appeal of the ruling.

On Friday, federal prosecutors appeared before a three-member panel of the B.C. Court of Appeal seeking the stay.

However, they quickly ran into opposition from the panel, who questioned whether the higher court had the jurisdiction to grant such an order.

Crown counsel Paul Riley responded by noting that following a recent high-profile civil case in which Canada’s criminal law against assisted-suicide was struck down by the B.C. Supreme Court, the high court granted a stay of the declaration of invalidity pending appeal.

He said it would be “absurd and almost ridiculous” for the high court to now refuse jurisdiction to hear a stay application in a criminal case involving the striking down of a criminal law.

“I would say many people would look at that and say it makes no sense,” said Riley. “It’s not only incredibly technical but it seems to ignore … that there is a concern about a gap in the legislation.”

Riley added that prosecutors were simply trying to maintain the rule of law.

But B.C. Court of Appeal Justice Peter Lowry said contrary to the Crown’s submission, he did not believe the Criminal Code allowed such a stay application to be heard by the court in the circumstances.

He said the only appeal that can be heard now by the court is regarding the decision by the judge to quash the indictment.

“But the Crown is not seeking a stay of that order. The Crown actually seeks a stay of the precedential effect of what was a determination of a constitutional issue. That is not a stay that in my view is open to an appellate court to grant.”

He declined to make the stay and his ruling was agreed to by Justice David Frankel, who was active in the questioning of the Crown, and Madam Justice Ann MacKenzie.

Outside court, federal prosecutor Peter LaPraire said the Crown hadn’t decided what it will do about the Appeal Court ruling but that added that it will likely have to go back before Justice Silverman.

Meanwhile the clock is ticking, as Justice Silverman’s suspension of declaration of invalidity of the law is expected to expire Feb. 25. The Sun Sea case, which has no trial date, is back in court Feb. 27.

Lawyers in the Sun Sea case have already filed a constitutional challenge similar to the one filed in the Ocean Lady case and are expected to seek to have the charges against the six accused quashed.

Justice Silverman found that the law was overly broad since it targeted individuals — including humanitarian workers — who the Crown did not intend to prosecute.

kfraser@theprovince.com
twitter.com/keithrfraser

Tags: , , , , , , ,





Featured

Selfies - inked finger-Twitter

Indian city bans selfies inside polling booths (w/gallery)

VANCOUVER DESI The next selfie you snap could land you in jail – for Indian voters at least. According to Indian news publication the Bangalore…
Continue Reading »

worship-India

Six-year-old worshipped for patch of hair on his back that has grown into a tail

VANCOUVER DESI A six-year-old Indian boy is being worshipped by villagers for a small patch of hair on his back that has grown into a…
Continue Reading »

Rahul Gandhi

India Elections: Rahul Gandhi attacks Narendra Modi’s ‘toffee model’

IANS Agra – Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi kept up his attack on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s “toffee model” of development that only…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Police tape off a residence at 3319 Kingsway in Vancouver, BC, April 14, 2014 after police shot a man who stabbed a woman and child. Arlen Redekop / PNG

Shot murder suspect under guard in hospital

IAN AUSTIN VANCOUVER DESI VANCOUVER - A 33-year-old Vancouver man has been charged with the murder of his mother and the attempted murder of his niece….
Continue Reading »

Stephen Harper-Canada-Prime Minister

Sri Lanka accuses Canada of using Commonwealth funding as political tool

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka accused Canada on Tuesday of using its funding of the Commonwealth for political purposes. The accusation…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood dancing

Gallery: Blossom Bollywood at Vancouver’s Cherry Blossom Festival

VANCOUVER DESI Shiamak Davar’s Vancouver dance team took part in the city’s annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday. Dancers performed…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Muslim Surveillance Program

New York police ends Muslim surveillance program that sparked outrage

TOM HAYS And JAKE PEARSON THE ASSOCIATED PRESS NEW YORK — The New York Police Department said Tuesday it has disbanded a special unit whose efforts to…
Continue Reading »

India-crime

Eatery owner stabbed to death over less than $1

IANS New Delhi – A 35-year-old eatery owner was Tuesday stabbed to death while his younger brother was injured in an attack by seven people…
Continue Reading »

Human sperm

Sperm may deliver stress too

IANS London – Your dad did not just pass his qualities via genes in you. He may have actually passed some stress too! A research…
Continue Reading »

trudeau

Gallery: Justin Trudeau celebrates with thousands at Vancouver Vaisakhi

VANCOUVER DESI Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark and thousands of others were out in the Saturday sunshine to celebrate Vancouver’s 25th annual Vaisakhi parade. The event,…
Continue Reading »

Ajit Singh, father of Jagtar Gill, is overcome with emotion as he leaves the courthouse Monday.Pat McGrath/Ottawa Citizen

Ottawa mom’s husband charged with first-degree murder (with video)

CHRIS COBB OTTAWA CITIZEN OTTAWA  — Minutes after Bhupinderpal Gill’s brief appearance in a packed courtroom Monday an emotional group of relatives and friends…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood

Shah Rukh Khan would love to dance on ‘Gangnam Style’ with Psy

VANCOUVER DESI Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan wants to dance with Korean rap sensation Psy on his global hit Gangnam Style, according to the Press…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Hrithik Roshan seeks health tips for ‘shin splints’ from Twitter fans

IANS Mumbai – Actor Hrithik Roshan, who underwent brain surgery last year, is again suffering from “shin splints”. The 40-year-old complained of pain in the…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Rajeev Khandelwal: Being in industry an endless marathon

IANS Mumbai – Actor Rajeev Khandelwal says that being in the film industry is like an endless marathon and the one who survives till the…
Continue Reading »