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Publication ban on reason for new delay of Basi-Virk trial

The start of the B.C. Legislature Raid trial for three former B.C. government staffers facing corruption charges has been delayed to May 17 from its scheduled start of May 3.

But because of a publication ban imposed by presiding B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne MacKenzie in March on all matters connected to pre-trial hearing and other evidence previously discussed in court, reasons for the delay cannot be reported.

An official in the Court Registry told 24 Hours on Wednesday that the trial had been rescheduled to start May 17.

David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi face corruption related charges stemming from a December 28, 2003 police raid on the B.C. Legislature in connection with the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail in November.

The publication ban stops any media from publishing or broadcasting details of what takes place in pre-trial hearings - only evidence presented to the jury in the trial can be reported.

Here is the publication ban implemented by MacKenzie:

"Vancouver Supreme Court

Registry Number: 23299

Case Name:R. v. Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi

Date: 04/03/2010

Pursuant to s. 648 of the Criminal Code and the inherent jurisdiction of the court, there shall be no publication in any document or broadcast or transmission of any evidence, submissions, rulings or Reasons for Judgment given in these proceedings in the absence of the jury until the jury renders its verdict or until further order of the Court."

As a result of this ban I am unable to report about anything that happened at the pre-trial hearing on Wednesday, including what reasons may have been given for the trial start delay, or whether any future pre-trial hearings are even taking place and when or why.

If a pre-trial hearing is scheduled it becomes public knowledge and reportable when it appears on the BC Supreme Court website scheduling section early the day of the hearing.

Bill Tieleman is a 24 hours columnist.

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