You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dziekanski's death 'deliberate,' watchdog suggests

September 25, 2009
Ian Bailey, Globe and Mail

Poland's top civil-rights watchdog says a crucial e-mail dissected at the Braidwood inquiry this week suggests the death of Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski was “deliberate, intentional and planned in advance.”

The comment by Janusz Kochanowski, Poland's commissioner for civil-rights protection, is included in a letter to be sent next week to Canada's director of public prosecutions that was obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The civil-rights commissioner's concerns revolve around suggestions the four Mounties involved in the October, 2007, confrontation with Mr. Dziekanski planned, in advance, to taser him.

In an e-mail presented to the Braidwood inquiry in June, RCMP Chief Superintendent Dick Bent quoted RCMP Superintendent Wayne Rideout suggesting the Mounties went to the airport planning to taser Mr. Dziekanski, which would have contradicted the inquiry testimony of the four Mounties.

On the stand at the Braidwood inquiry this week, Supt. Rideout, who was in charge of investigating Mr. Dziekanski's death, bluntly dismissed the theory, and said Supt. Bent was wrong. Supt. Bent told the inquiry the suggestion was correct as far as he knew.

In an interview from Warsaw Thursday, the civil-rights commissioner's spokesman said he hoped Mr. Braidwood would properly assess the conflicting accounts on the e-mail in his final report.

Miroslaw Wroblewski also said the commissioner remains intent on seeing the Mounties prosecuted and that Mr. Braidwood's final report would be a green light for efforts by his office to press Polish prosecutors to figure out how to do that.

Mr. Dziekanski drew the attention of police when he began acting erratically in Vancouver international airport after a long flight to Canada from Poland. When the 40-year-old labourer picked up a stapler in a manner police deemed threatening, he was stunned five times and cuffed. He died of a cardiac arrest that was not officially linked to the taser. However, his death prompted an ongoing debate on the police use of stun guns, and in the case of Poland, calls for the criminal prosecution of the officers involved.

B.C. prosecutors have ruled out such a prosecution, saying the officers did not break the law.

But the Polish commissioner's office is bullish about a prosecution.

“We cannot exclude any solution. The ending and final effect of the Braidwood inquiry is now the most important thing [about] what will happen next,” said Mr. Wroblewski.

“We will take further steps after the end of the [Braidwood] proceedings.”

He declined to get into specifics about exactly how prosecutors in a European country would hold Mounties in Canada legally accountable for their actions, but insisted “legally, it's possible.”

In the letter, Poland's civil-right commissioner asks for an official update on the ongoing inquiry.

“I would like to emphasize that an appropriate closure of this matter is of uncommon significance, not only for the family of the deceased, Robert Dziekanski, but also for the whole of Polish society, which is following the events connected with these proceedings with great interest,” the letter says.

He is to sign the letter next week. It will then be mailed to Brian Saunders, the federal prosecutions director.

A spokesman for Mr. Saunders' office said Thursday that they had not had any previous dealings with the Polish commissioner on the Dziekanski case, nor did they have any role in the matter.

Mr. Kochanowski is an independent officer appointed by the Polish government to monitor and uphold the civil rights of Polish citizens at home and abroad.

He met last week with Mr. Dziekanski's mother, Zofia Cisowski, who was in Poland for a visit.

The commissioner told Ms. Cisowski about all of the actions his office has taken in the case since 2007, and thoughts about a prosecution. Mr. Wroblewski noted that Ms. Cisowski said she had faith in the work of Mr. Braidwood.

Mr. Braidwood, a retired B.C. appeal-court justice, heard his last witness this week.

Starting Oct. 5, lawyers representing parties including the RCMP, Mr. Dziekanski's mother and the Canadian government will begin making final oral submissions to Mr. Braidwood, who will then begin writing his final report.

No comments: