Pubdate: Thu, 30 Jun 2005
Source: Globe and Mail (Canada)
Copyright: 2005, The Globe and Mail Company
Author: Rod Mickleburgh, with a report from Mark Hume
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Canada)


Proceedings Will Continue Against Onetime Minister's Assistant In 
B.C. Rail Case

VANCOUVER -- Federal prosecutors have stayed two drug charges against 
David Basi, the former ministerial aide at the centre of an 
unprecedented police raid on the B.C. Legislature.

The Crown's decision came to light only yesterday, although the stay 
of proceedings on charges against Mr. Basi of production of a 
controlled substance and possession for the purpose of trafficking 
was entered in provincial court last Friday.

The charges were laid after the discovery of a marijuana grow 
operation at a Vancouver Island residence rented out by Mr. Basi.

Along with another onetime ministerial aide, Robert Virk, Mr. Basi 
also faces multiple counts of fraud and breach of trust, relating to 
the alleged trading of confidential government documents on the sale 
of the B.C. Rail-owned facility at Roberts Bank.

His lawyer, Michael Bolton, said the Crown agreed to stay the charges 
after reviewing "some material not previously available" that had 
been turned over by his client.

"Mr. Basi is obviously very relieved," Mr. Bolton said. "The offences 
committed [at the grow-op house] were without his knowledge or involvement.

"Now that these charges have been stayed, Mr. Basi is able to 
concentrate on fighting the political charges."

Mr. Basi was previously a top aide for then-finance minister Gary 
Collins, while Mr. Virk was an assistant to Judith Reid, 
transportation minister at the time.

Both were subsequently fired.

Federal justice spokeswoman Lyse Cantin declined to say why the drug 
charges against Mr. Basi were stayed.

However, she said the Crown is continuing with charges against seven 
other individuals who had been charged along with Mr. Basi, and those 
cases are expected to proceed to court in December.

"As Mr. Basi's counsel, I can say we are just very grateful that the 
Crown was open to taking a look at this case and were prepared to 
reconsider the matter," Mr. Bolton said.

He said Mr. Basi had been "a little bit bugged" by the drug charges. 
"He has no problem standing up and defending himself in the other 
case, but he felt these drug allegations were below the belt. So we 
are delighted they have now been dropped."

Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk are scheduled to go on trial in B.C. Supreme 
Court on Nov. 28 in a case that has attracted wide political interest.

In addition to their jobs as ministerial aides, the two men were 
strong organizers in the Indo-Canadian community for Prime Minister 
Paul Martin's federal leadership campaign.

Key federal Liberal organizer Mark Marissen, who is married to former 
B.C. education minister Christy Clark, also became embroiled in the 
case, after police visited his office searching for documents.

Mr. Marissen was not under investigation and co-operated with police.

Police raided the legislative offices of Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk 
shortly before Christmas, 2003, hauling off cartons of files and documents.

Search warrants that would reveal more details of the case have been 
kept sealed by the courts, despite persistent attempts by media 
lawyers to have them released.
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