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The Trials of Lord Black (and others)

Worldwide opinion on crime and punishment.

Angus Reid 22 Mar

This Tyee series shares with you the research conducted by the Angus Reid Global Monitor, the Vancouver-based leaders in public opinion analysis. TrendWatch columns offer quick, concise context for developing stories in BC and beyond.

What do Charles Manson, Bill Clinton and Lord Conrad Black of Crossharbour have in common? They've all been the centre of a so-called "trial of the century."

What actually constitutes such a trial, however, is clearly in the eye of the beholder. Our recent survey shows that more than half of Canadians are casting at least an occasional glance at Conrad Black's fraud case in Chicago. But, on the other hand, a mere two per cent say they are watching the high-profile proceedings "very closely."

Men (60 per cent) and Canadians over 55 (76 per cent) are particularly interested in the case. While those aged 18-34 are especially indifferent: 60 per cent of the latter group say they are not paying any attention at all.

Canadians are also uncertain about the fairness of the American justice system. More than half seem sure Black will receive a fair trial at the hands of the U.S. justice system, but 13 per cent of Canadians think he is only being targeted because of his nationality.

Black's plight evokes little sympathy on this side of the 49th parallel. A mere eight per cent of Canadians say they would feel sorry for Black if he were convicted.

For an overview of worldwide reactions to crime, check out the following polls:

United States -- Scooter Libby

In the wake of Libby's recent conviction in connection with the CIA leak investigation, a poll found that 69 per cent of Americans believe George W. Bush should not pardon Cheney's former chief of staff.

Russia -- Litvinenko

Few adults in Russia believe the people responsible for a high profile assassination will be brought to justice, according to a poll by the All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center. Only 17 per cent of respondents think the perpetrators of former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko's murder will be found.

France -- Domestic violence

Many adults in France are worried about the way the country is dealing with physical, sexual or psychological abuse in the home. Seventy per cent of respondents think authorities are not doing enough to combat domestic violence.

Britain -- Gang shootings

Three recent gun crimes involving teenagers in the U.K. have people looking for root causes. Many adults in Britain think they know the source: according to one poll, 80 per cent of respondents say family breakdown and the lack of discipline within the home is a major source.

Israel -- Sexual harassment

Most Israelis disagree with the final verdict in a well-publicized case of indecent conduct in their country, says one poll. A full 53 per cent of respondents believe former justice minister Chaim Ramon was not treated fairly when he was charged with indecent conduct for kissing an unnamed female soldier.

United States -- O.J. Simpson

Most Americans think Simpson is guilty, says this survey, which found that 82 per cent of them think he definitely or probably killed his wife and her friend.

El Salvador -- Dealing with gangs

Although Salvadoran adults hold differing views on the best way to curb unlawful activity, 29 per cent want to deploy the army to fight criminals and gangs in that country.  [Tyee]

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