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  • Extradition insight on kidnapping

    05/31/2012 3:38 PM

    One of the beauties of the web is extended space.

    A story that ran yesterday on the extradition of Kevin Maryk, the father of Abby and Dominic Maryk, said it could be delayed for months.

    There's also a possibility that Maryk's friend Robert Groen could be deported, not extradited, said police.

    Regardless, B.C. legal expert Gary Botting provided a LOT of legal insight on the matter, not all of which ran in the print version of our story.

    I include it below for all the legal eagles who want to check it out. What do you think? And...I wonder, what does Emily Cablek think?

    (One emailer already expressed his opinion, saying: "(Let) that SOB rot in a Mexican jail")

    This is from Botting:

    "An ordinary extradition process typically takes about a year, but this is not an ordinary case. The timeline may be affected by a number of variables, including the fact that they are likely to be held in comparatively sleazy accommodation in Mexico, learning to share accommodation with other less than savoury prisoners, often several to a cell. This might motivate the accused to opt to return to Canada more quickly, where they are more likely to be able to avail themselves of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted, including (if they are Canadians with roots here) the right to bail. They could always waive the right to an extradition hearing. If we were dealing with an straight extradition case, the time may be very short indeed. On the other hand, they may qualify for bail down in Mexico while the extradition is proceeding, in which case they could drag out the extradition process for a year or two."

    "This case will be further complicated by the fact that Mexican authorities (ALLEGEDLY - GABRIELLE'S ADD) found illicit drugs and pornography on the property. These constitute criminal activities in Mexico, and Mexico is likely to want to prosecute those first before considering extraditing for charges such as abduction. The investigation there may be far more complex than meets the eye: what has happened to the children since they disappeared?...."

    "While Mexico can extradite the person sought, Article XIV of the Canada-Mexico Extradition Treaty allows Mexico to postpone surrender of the person ‘when the person sought is being proceeded against or is serving a sentence within the territory of the Requested Party for an offence other than that for which extradition is requested ... until the conclusion of the proceedings or the service of any sentence that may have been proposed.' That could be a long time in the future.

    Also, if the accused happen to be Mexican nationals (even if they are also Canadian citizens), under Article III, Mexico does not have to send them back for prosecution. However, if Mexico opts not to extradite, it must prosecute. Given that much if not most of the evidence is in Mexico (i.e., what happened to the girls since their arrival there), Mexico may well to choose prosecution over extradition. Faced with this prospect, the accused (of they have dual citizenship) may decide that Canada is not such a bad place after all, and decide that they are not Mexican but Canadian. In any case, under Article XI of the Treaty they may waive the extradition proceedings to get ‘home' to Canada more quickly to face the music. This would seem to be the best option for everyone."

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  • More than a victim

    11/6/2012 3:37 PM

    I couldn't believe it when I woke up yesterday morning to a stack of emails about an alleged serial killer. For years, there has been rampant speculation about a serial killer in Winnipeg. What has been a highly sensitive issue for policing -- in the constant roller-coaster of First Nation/policing relations -- had shown up at the forefront, at last.

    I suspect -- for reasons I haven't verified yet -- there will be more yet on how this came to public attention.
    But for today, I wanted to post a letter from the family of victim Lorna Blacksmith. (I have heard some rampant speculation on the subject of serial killers from families -- some totally baseless, some potentially useful)
    In this case, I thought it best the family put it in their own words -- from Lorna's aunt...

    "I just want to clarify some things that are being said in the paper about my niece. The WFP is stating that my niece worked in the city's sex-trade industry. I would like to know where this information is coming from because it is not the truth. I want to set the record straight.

    My niece was NOT a prostitute. Every time one of our women, our Aboriginal women go missing they are continually classified as someone who worked the streets. Every time the media makes such a statement, it further perpetuates our women as the continuing stereotype of sex trade workers who are less than human, expendable, of no value to society with others quick to judge and blaming them for the choices they may or may not have made....

    This is who Lorna Blacksmith was and you tell me if this was just another prostitute.

    Lorna was an amazing, upbeat, caring, healthy young woman. She had goals, ambitions, values, and beliefs. She was an academic achiever in school, her goal in life was to become a successful, independent woman. She was a beautiful aboriginal woman with a whole future ahead of her. Like any 18 year old, she made mistakes, struggled, endured challenges, had weaknesses, made misjudgments; she was a teenager who needed guidance, direction, in her life like most 18 year olds in this life.

    Instead of focusing on the human being she was, your paper has chosen instead to focus on "the sex trade worker" label. As her aunt, I loved her. We all loved her, and cared for her. She didn't need to die that young. I don't appreciate the negative images your paper are perpetuating about our women. We are a targeted people, and we will continue to suffer as a people when stories regarding aboriginal woman continue in the light your paper has chosen to paint us.

    Lorna will always be remembered as a beautiful young woman, whose life was cut short. You need to focus on the fact that she is a human being and to be treated with dignity and respect."

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  • Ride Gone Wrong: A taxi story

    01/9/2012 3:32 PM

    Sometimes, as a reporter, a story grabs you by the neck and won’t let go.

    A recent series I did on taxicabs weighed on me for months, after a pretty amazing woman I met came forward to tell her story.

    She was brave and angry and motivated, and told the story of her alleged sexual assault by a driver.

    The man is now before the courts – and the case hit the news because she made the choice to discuss it.

    Her story motivated me to look at other similar allegations.

    I was surprised when I started researching the issue of taxicab sexual assaults, and saw that while there’s been reports of such incidents in jurisdictions across Canada, I could not find a single piece that looked at the issue as a whole. This series looked at the problem from both a victim’s and driver’s perspective, as well as board policies around public notification of assaults.

    When you write for print, your space is limited – so the videos by my colleague Tania Kohut told the story in a way I could not have.

    I hope none of our readers ever have to go to the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) suite at the Health Sciences Centre for an examination, but getting a glimpse inside it is important insight into how sensitively these crimes are dealt with.

    Anyways, I wanted to make sure that the Freep’s approach to the issue was balanced and not one-sided, which was why looking at false allegations also played into the story.

    I have far, far, far, more thoughts than I will write here but I thought I would share two pieces of mail I got in regards to the series.

    The vast majority of feedback was overwhelmingly positive...I think it’s an issue that touches a nerve with people, and hits on things that we feel slightly nervous about confronting in Canadian society.

    One of these letters was from a Manitoba reader, the other from the former cab driver (and still Manitoban) who was acquitted of a sexual assault charge (his insight was part of the series, but not at this length).

    Both letters were amazingly eloquent.

    There were many people who helped out on this, and I am exceedingly grateful to all of them for their time on a very complex issue.

    This is from a woman, who said this incident happened about three years ago:

    "I was at the Festival du voyageur and had planned to take a taxi home. Approx. midnight I got into a cab and told him my address. We were driving when I asked him to make a stop at 7-11 so that I can get his cab money, he became very belligerent and offensive. I told the cab driver I wasn’t trying to rip him off and he could come into the store if he needed to. He drove to a very dark secluded area somewhere off Main Street and told me to get out of the car. I refused and told him to drive to 7-11 and I would walk from there. He wouldn’t go and continued to tell me get out of the car and I continued to refuse. He said he would call the police and I told him to go right ahead. I pulled out my house keys and kept them in my hand in case I needed to protect myself. I guess the cab driver then decided that I was prepared to protect and stand up for myself at all costs and started to drive. I was taken to 7-11 on Mountain Avenue and paid him only what was owed and told him I would be making a complaint. I am not positive what would have happened if I got out of the cab.

    "My advice to women taking cabs alone is to always sit in the back seat and remain in the cab and call the police if ordered to get out. It’s more difficult for the driver to assault you when you are in the back seat and he is in the front seat. If you have the slightest concern don’t get in the cab and wait for another one."

    This is from the former cab driver who was accused and acquitted of sexual assault, but left the profession over the allegations:

    "Driving taxi is a stressful job and sometimes becomes a very dangerous job as well, as stated you never know who your next fare will be and the condition or activities of those individuals you pick up. That job exposed me to bikers, drug dealers, gang members, gangsters, prostitutes and thieves. Yes most people were just normal individual's going about their business and were good passengers. But as mentioned, you have no control over where you get dispatched, and who your next fare will be. I would never drive a taxi again as long as I live and worry about those who do. It's a very dangerous job with no support mechanisms in place to save you in the event of a serious life threatening or life changing situation occurring.

    "I recognize that Winnipeg taxi's now have video camera equipment installed as a safety precaution, but that doesn't change what you get exposed to as a driver or save you in the event of trouble. I would rather starve and be homeless, or end up on welfare, before ever going back to that profession. I am 56 years of age, I have no criminal record and have never had charges prior to or after driving taxi. It's not the type of job I would recommend anyone doing, people can say what they will about it, but an allegation like this can ruin your life.

    "As mentioned, the charges were dropped and I was acquitted, yet two years ago during a routine traffic stop, the officer informed me that that charge was still on record. I inquired about getting this information removed from the system, but was told I had no criminal record and therefore didn't need to apply for a pardon. They also informed me this allegation would stay on record and follow me the rest of my life, which I think is ridiculous. I was never convicted of the charge, yet the history of the allegation is there in the records for them to see and confront me about.

    "I don't like the idea that if I ever get stopped again, that information is provided to the officer who stopped me. This information should not be available as it is embarrassing to say the least, in addition if that officer decides to tell others about it, the stigma that surrounds that type of charge can have a very negative impact on me in the community and ruin my reputation as a professional person. No -One likes someone they think is either a threat or a danger to people in that community."

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  • Records checks: necessary evil?

    12/2/2011 3:50 PM

    I received two interesting pieces of mail regarding a recent story I did on wait times for criminal record checks, based on the ones needed for those who work with especially vulnerable people like kids or disabled adults.

    The issue isn’t new to Winnipeg, and has popped up in other parts of Canada (as fingerprint analysis is done through the RCMP, so it’s a federal issue). However, what recently caught my interest in Doug Goodman’s case was the fact this longtime foster parent and plain-spoken man presented himself as taking one for the team.

    (Goodman said in an interview he knows lots of other people eager to foster who have huge issues with the checks. As reporters know... chatting publicly about anything CFS-related takes moxie, because in my experience anything CFS-related is usually placed in a cone of silence, with no help from this province’s restrictive Child and Family Services Act.)

    Anyways, after the piece ran, I received two pieces of mail I thought worth running.

    One is from Chris Burrows, spokeswoman for the Dufferin-area Citizens on Watch program and wife of notorious Point Douglas activist Sel Burrows. Here are her thoughts:

    "It is not just foster parents, now to be a block parent we have to be fingerprinted in case there  are pedophiles who share our names. It has been incredibly hard to get block parents in the 'inner city' because of having to do a police check, with this latest addition I can't see anybody coming forward. Sel and I have been 'block parents' since the '70s except when we have lived outside Winnipeg. We were quite upset by this latest request when we both have perfectly clean criminal records."

    The other is from a woman in British Columbia. (I removed her name from her letter after getting her permission to run it)

    "I am a university student, mom and active volunteer. I legally changed my name (1st & middle names, not last name) in early summer of 2007. In B.C. it was required that you submit fingerprints when doing this, which I did. My record came back clean (of course) and I have a letter from CCIS (Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services) from Ottawa of the RCMP dated November 26th, 2007 stating: "The subject identified below has been processed for Name Change Purposes. The original fingerprint form used to submit the above fingerprints has been used to preform the fingerprint search and has been destroyed."

    I also have a letter dated February 22, 2010, from the Deputy Registrar of the Criminal Records Review Program stating: "No criminal record was found." I had to get this done for my practicum at the college because I would be dealing with vulnerable people as part of my program.

    There is a glitch in the system and I have gone to my federal (MP) Alex Atamanenko to discuss this with him. I did this back in June of 2011. I did this because I went to get another criminal record check done for a volunteer position in the fall of (2010) and the police (wouldn’t) give me my forms back and accused me of being a criminal because my gender and birth date matched a registered sex offender (apparently). I was treated horribly by the RCMP, they were threatening, rude and even called my house after to harass myself and my husband, for what I have no idea. They accused me of lying about who I was. I (didn’t) lie about anything as I stated I had provided my prints and everything came back fine and when I offered to provide my letters (stated above) they refused to accept them. They insisted that I provide my fingerprints yet again, I refused as I has already submitted them more than once and have the documentation proving I did not have a record.

    My MP is concerned about this problem as it is not the 1st complaint he has received from the public. He wrote a letter to Vic Toews MP, Minister of Public Safety raising these issues with the vulnerable sector checks and asked for a response back to himself and me. As of (today’s) date neither of us has heard a word. This has left some major negative impacts on my life and that of my (family) who I am trying to support while I attend University. I cannot get a job or another practicum. I am in my 3rd year of my BA in Psychology and have over $30,000 in student loans owing. I refuse to do another fingerprint check, there is absolutely no reason for another fingerprint check and the public needs to know that there is a serious issue in regards to how they are doing these checks. The program will leave me continuously having to pay to get my fingerprints done as the gender and birth date will always come up that matches mine and the RCMP refuse to look at any of their own documentation showing there was already a check done that came back satisfactory when it (shouldn’t) be needed.

    There needs to be an investigation as there are others like me out there who are wondering why we have to keep paying for the same thing over and over again and wondering if this is a way for the federal government to be collecting data (like fingerprints) on the public without having to answer to anyone."

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About Gabrielle Giroday

Gabrielle has handled the police and crime beat for the Winnipeg Free Press since 2009, meaning she’s seen the best and worst humanity has to offer.

Covering the crime beat in a city known for its homicide rate and violent crime can be challenging, but Gabrielle tries to look at the more complex factors that drive violent events. She began the beat after originally joining the Free Press in June 2005.

Her previous experience contributing to the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business magazine, the National Post, Maisonneuve magazine and NOW Magazine. She was also a member of the editorial board of the Queen’s University Feminist Review, and completed a degree there in politics and English. Some of the Toronto native’s favourite adventures include hitchhiking in the Cuban countryside during a stint studying in Havana, and hanging off the back of a jeep climbing the Kanchenjunga mountain in Nepal.

Gabrielle also felt privileged to write about the first-time elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the summer of 2006, and received a grant from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Canadian International Development Agency to write about sexual violence there.

She recently went to Cameroon in fall 2010 as part of an expert election monitoring team, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

When she’s not chasing a story, Gabrielle can be found jogging every morning by the Legislature and down Portage Avenue.

She’s always enthusiastic about stories that involve investigating the road less travelled or the opinion less broadcast.

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