Stonechild judge demands uncensored documents
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, despite the objection of police lawyers.
After a six-week break, the inquiry was supposed to hear from Saskatoon's deputy police chief, but that plan was curtailed by arguments about what the police force did to prepare for the examination of the Aboriginal teen's death.
The arguments stem from the possibility that a parallel investigation was being conducted by Saskatoon Police. That possibility was raised early on in the inquiry by Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations lawyer Sy Halyk.
|Neil Stonechild" src="http://sask.cbc.ca/gfx/Sask/photos/stonechild_neil03022.jpg"> |
However, Halyk was forced to withdraw his comments after objections from a police lawyer. Those allegations were revived by Halyk Monday, this time with supporting documents.
When the inquiry was called, Saskatoon Police set up what's been called an "issue team." It was supposed to come up with tactics and strategy to deal with questions raised by the inquiry.
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.
"What ever 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 the only things in the documents that were blacked out, was removed because of personnel and security issues.
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 and decide what can be kept secret and what should be released.
Neil Stonechild 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. It started in September and was supposed to cost $1 million. So far it has cost double that and taken longer than expected.