Stonechild inquiry hears evidence of police 'parallel investigation'
Last Updated Mon, 08 Mar 2004 21:36:18
SASKATOON - The judge overseeing an inquiry into the death of Neil Stonechild is asking for notes taken by a so-called "issue team" formed by Saskatoon police.
Neil Stonechild, an aboriginal teenager, was found frozen to death in Saskatoon more than 13 years ago. The inquiry is aimed at finding out if Saskatoon police had any role to play in his death.
Sy Halyk, the lawyer for the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations, said early on in the investigation that the Saskatoon police set up a parallel investigation, but he was forced to withdraw the allegation after objections from a police lawyer.
On Monday, Halyk raised the issue again, basing his allegations with supporting documents.
When the inquiry was called, Saskatoon police set up the so-called "issue team" that was intended to come up with tactics and strategies to deal with questions raised by the inquiry.
Deputy Chief of police Dan Wiks said the issue team's job was to make sure the inquiry got the information it needed and to control information given to the public.
"We had brainstorming sessions, I would call them, as to what questions I'd be asked when I got to the stand," said Wiks. "We threw everything out there because we didn't know what to expect."
Minutes of the meetings were disclosed to the commission, but in some cases whole pages have been blacked out. That's why Halyk is now calling for full disclosure.
"Whatever the term be used; whether it be called a shadow investigation, whether it be called a parallel investigation, whether it be called an investigation of the investigators, I believe the evidence is now in existence," Halyk said.
A police lawyer insists that only details of personnel and security issues in the documents were blacked out.
Halyk said that every meeting began with a warning to the team that their work be kept confidential.
Justice David Wright, who is in charge of the inquiry, ordered police to give him a full, unedited copy of the documents. He will review them and decide what can be kept secret and what should be released.
Written by CBC News Online staff