Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tories may allow Schreiber's extradition!

I find it absolutely weird that the Conservatives would allow the extradition and not use Nicholson's legal power to postpone his extradition until after the inquiry. Maybe that legal beagle Gary Botting is already advising the Tories but as other experts point out it is unlikely that Schreiber could use the provisions mentioned to keep him in Canada if he is kept for the inquiry. No doubt he will try and fail.
If Schreiber goes to Germany he probably will not co-operate at all. Schreiber is not after all given to doing things that he doesn't profit from! If he is extradited we are in for continual screams from the opposition and a lot of wasted time on the issue.


Tories say they may allow Schreiber's extradition
Opposition steps up calls to delay businessman's return to Germany out of fear he won't testify at public inquiry

November 17, 2007

OTTAWA -- The Conservative government hinted yesterday that it wants to send Karlheinz Schreiber back to Germany and have officials from a public inquiry interview him there - even though Mr. Schreiber says he won't talk if that happens.

Opposition politicians intensified calls for Justice Minister Rob Nicholson to delay Mr. Schreiber's extradition until after he testifies at a public inquiry into the so-called Mulroney-Schreiber affair.

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day, now acting as the government's chief spokesman on the issue in the Commons, refused to say precisely what the government will do, but added that the inquiry will be able to question witnesses "wherever they might be."

"Within the guidelines of a full public inquiry is the power to subpoena, the power to require people to be witnesses and that would take place wherever an individual may find themselves," Mr. Day told reporters later.

Mr. Schreiber warned in an interview with The Globe and Mail on Thursday that he would not say one word to the Canadian public inquiry if he is sent back to Germany to face trial for fraud, bribery, and tax evasion.

"Why would I care any longer?" he said.

Liberal politicians said that this warning, and the practical problems with collecting evidence in Germany or bringing Mr. Schreiber back to Canada to testify, mean that the government must delay the extradition.

"You can't have him shuffling back and forth. It would be a bit absurd," said Liberal MP Irwin Cotler, who, as justice minister, signed the extradition order against Mr. Schreiber.

"It's not necessarily a one-time appearance. You've got a person here who's your chief witness before that inquiry. He has to be present to hear what other witnesses are saying before the inquiry. ... Is he going to be sitting in a cell in Germany or wherever listening to the inquiry?"

Mr. Cotler said that Mr. Nicholson needs only to postpone Mr. Schreiber's extradition, not halt it. And New Democratic MP Pat Martin said Canada should have dibs.

"Possession is nine-tenths of the law. We've got him. They don't, you know," he said. "We all want him. But honestly, they might as well not have a public inquiry if we let him go."

Technically, subpoenas issued by a Canadian inquiry have no force in a foreign country, although German authorities can agree to issue similar orders there. Whether that would have an effect on Mr. Schreiber once he is in Germany is another matter, however.

One legal expert, British Columbia lawyer Gary Botting, said delaying the extradition could allow Mr. Schreiber to evade prosecution - although other experts disagreed.

Mr. Botting, author of Canadian Extradition Law Practice, said that the habeas corpus provisions of the Extradition Act would allow Mr. Schreiber to apply to a judge to be set free if he is not sent to Germany within 45 days after his legal appeals are exhausted. That would cancel his extradition, he said.

That 45-day clock started ticking on Thursday, when the Ontario Court of Appeal rejected Mr. Schreiber's latest appeal, but it would be reset if his lawyers seek leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

But Joseph Neuberger, a Toronto criminal-law lawyer who has handled high-profile extradition cases, said court precedents indicate that a judge would apply the habeas corpus provisions only to prevent someone from languishing in jail when the government inappropriately drags its feet on shipping them to trial abroad.

Those precedents indicate that courts will not use that to set someone free from extradition when a justice minister is properly using his power to delay for a legitimate purpose, such as testifying at an inquiry.

"It's a completely lawful purpose, frankly, which Mr. Schreiber himself has brought into being by his own hand."

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