Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

One year later... still no verdict

Former police chief in limbo as judge mulls perjury case

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The fate of a former Manitoba police chief remains up in the air more than a year after his criminal trial ended.

No explanation has been given for the unusually long delay in a case that began with a deadly highway crash in 2005 and included a public inquiry in 2008.

Harry Bakema, 61, has pleaded not guilty to perjury, obstruction of justice and breach of trust. Crown and defence lawyers made their closing arguments on May 17, 2012. Provincial court Judge Kelly Moar reserved his decision and gave no indication when it would be ready.

Bakema's name has appeared periodically on the court docket ever since -- most recently this week -- as lawyers adjourn the case until Moar says he has a verdict.

A provincial court spokesman told the Free Press Wednesday they had no date for a verdict. The next court date is June 4.

Bakema's lawyer, Hymie Weinstein, told the Free Press Moar has plenty of evidence to consider and lawyers expected it would take some time. However, justice sources say this delay is almost unprecedented.

Crown attorney Ashley Finlayson has argued there is no doubt Bakema deliberately overlooked compelling evidence that suggested his former police colleague, Derek Harvey-Zenk, was drunk at the time of the deadly 2005 crash.

Crystal Taman, 40, a married mother of three, was killed after her car was rear-ended by Harvey-Zenk while she waited at a red light near Lagimodiere Boulevard and the Perimeter Highway. Harvey-Zenk, now 39, was heading home from a night of drinking with fellow Winnipeg police officers.

He pleaded guilty to the reduced charge of dangerous driving causing death and was given a conditional sentence.

The failure of East St. Paul police to properly document signs Harvey-Zenk was impaired is one reason alcohol-related charges were dropped. That issue was the primary focus of a 2008 inquiry that led to Bakema's arrest and the end of the East St. Paul police service.

Bakema's lawyer argued the Crown failed to prove Bakema had criminal intent while acting as chief of East St. Paul police.

Weinstein suggested several former police officers who testified at the two-week trial were either mistaken or misrepresenting the truth about what happened. At worst, Bakema is guilty of making unintentional errors, he said.

He also took issue with the testimony of several witnesses who painted an ugly picture of Bakema's role in the investigation. Corrine Scott, a retired superintendent of the Winnipeg Police Service, told court Bakema called her from the crash scene, warning her an officer was involved.

Winnipeg police patrol Sgt. Cecil Sveinson testified Bakema told him at the crash scene that Harvey-Zenk was "pissed." Sveinson, who was Taman's cousin, went to the scene to perform an aboriginal ceremony. He said Bakema added they had to get Harvey-Zenk "out of there right away."

Jason Woychuk, a former East St. Paul constable, told court a paramedic said Harvey-Zenk may have been intoxicated, but Bakema ordered him to keep that detail out of his report.

www.mikeoncrime.com

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 23, 2013 A5

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