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Monday, March 30, 2009

Taser inquiry sees RCMP officers' lawyers clash with Polish woman

March 30, 2009
By Gerry Bellett, Vancouver Sun

VANCOUVER -- A Polish neighbour of Robert Dziekanski clashed numerous times with two lawyers representing RCMP officers at the Braidwood Inquiry Monday when they suggested Dziekanski was an alcoholic or prone to violence.

Iwona Kowoska who lived in the same apartment building as Dziekanski in the southern Polish city of Gliwice reacted angrily to the suggestions and threatened both lawyers that she would not answer any more questions if they persisted.

She accused the lawyers of trying to blacken his character.

She was giving evidence via a video link from Poland and spoke through an interpreter at the inquiry into Dziekanski’s death in Vancouver International Airport after he was Tasered by four RCMP officers.

Kowoska, under questioning from commission counsel Art Viertlieb, had described Dziekanski as a normal man, friendly, a good neighbour who had an interest in geography and was looking forward to starting a new life in Canada with his mother.

They had known each other socially for more than 20 years and she often saw him walking his dog. But she said he was afraid of flying as he had never been in an aircraft and didn’t sleep for 48-hours before he departed from Gliwice to fly to Frankfurt then on to Vancouver on Oct. 13, 2007.

There was an obvious tension in her evidence but it turned to anger when questioned first by David Butcher and Ravi Hira about Dziekanski’s private life, his habits, disposition, medical record.

Hira had attempted to ask her if she knew he had a criminal record but was stopped by former B.C. Appeal Court Justice Tom Braidwood who said he wouldn’t allow the question.

Neither Butcher, who represents Const. Bill Bentley, nor Hira, who represents Const. Kwesi Millington, told Kosowska who they were representing when questioning her. Both just said they were representing a party at the inquest.

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