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Taser inquiry can find misconduct, judge rules

VANCOUVER - The inquiry looking into the death of Robert Dziekanski would be within its mandate to consider a finding of misconduct against four RCMP officers, a B.C. Supreme Court Justice ruled today.

It means lawyers for the RCMP officers involved have failed in their attempt to convince the court the Braidwood Inquiry could be stepping outside its boundaries.

And it paves the way, pending an appeal, for closing arguments in the high profile inquiry into Dziekanski's October 2007 death to begin as scheduled on Friday.

Lawyers for the four RCMP officers had argued the inquiry, created under provincial legislation, could have been going beyond its jurisdiction since the officers are federal police.

And they argued the inquiry could potentially come perilously close to making findings of criminal liability for the officers' actions.

But B.C. Supreme Court Justice Arne Silverman ruled the inquiry - which is permitted to allege misconduct under its terms of reference - is acting within its mandate.

And he ruled any potential misconduct allegations would fall far short of a judgement of criminal liability against the officers.

Lawyers for the RCMP officers declined to speak with reporters after today's decision.

Commission counsel Art Vertlieb said the decision will allow the inquiry to get on with its work.

"We will be ready to go on Friday, starting on schedule," he said, anticipating the start of closing arguments.

Irwin Loy reports for Vancouver 24 hours.

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