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Basi-Virk trial date to be set in early February

A trial date in the political corruption case that begin with a police raid on the B.C. Legislature in 2003 will finally be set in early February for later this year, a Special Prosecutor said in B.C. Supreme Court on Monday.

Bill Berardino said lawyers for the accused – former B.C. Liberal government aides David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi – have made such substantial progress working with the Crown on outstanding defence applications that a trial date can be set on either February 8 or 10.

Berardino said the Crown will call seven to 10 core witnesses in efforts to convict David Basi and Virk of breach of trust and fraud and predicted that would take eight to 10 weeks in court.

The two former ministerial aides are alleged to have provided confidential government information to lobbyists representing a losing bidder in the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail to CN Rail in 2003. Aneal Basi faces related money laundering charges.

Justice Anne MacKenzie was visibly pleased at the news a trial date can be set.

“The court wants to acknowledge the hard work of the Crown and defence counsel,” MacKenzie said, referring to negotiations to withdraw potential defence applications, including abuse of process, challenges to wiretaps and disclosure issues.

“This is very helpful to the administration of justice,” MacKenzie said.

Outside court David Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton said it was “premature to talk about defence witnesses”.

“It depends on which witnesses the Crown call and which witnesses, if any, the defence calls,” Bolton said, also declining to speculate on how long the defence would take to present its case in court.

Bill Tieleman is a regular Tyee contributor who writes a column on B.C. politics every Tuesday in Vancouver 24 hours. This story first appeared on his blog.

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