Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Taman stream of consciousness (7) part two

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Contrary to earlier reports (at least on this blog) Minuk will hardly get a chance to start his testimony today. The pace of the inquiry is a fairly unpredictable thing, and the direct examination of defence lawyer Richard Wolson, the lawyer who represented Derek Harvey-Zenk, took longer than expected. So, as this is being written (approx. 3:50 PM) it looks as if there may only be 15-30 minutes for the special prosecutor to start his testimony.Wolson's testimony was quite interesting. He provided the first inside account of the plea bargain negotiations between himself, Minuk and Chief Provincial Court Justice Ray Wyant, who oversaw the sentencing. Wolson said a number of interesting things, including a revelation that a "bona fide" threat against both him and Harvey-Zenk precipitated a decision to spirit Harvey-Zenk away from the law courts building following sentencing in October 2007.The decision to take Harvey-Zenk out a side door, away from the glare of television lights and reporter's tape recorders, became its own story and sparked outrage that a police officer had received special treatment. Wolson said this was done because he received a threatening voice mail on his cell phone. The voice mail was provided to the WPS major crimes unit, and reported to Wyant, who ultimately was responsible for the decision to allow Harvey-Zenk to depart the law courts from a less-visible exit.This explanation was quite different from the one offered at the time. Sheriff's deputies told the media Harvey-Zenk and his family and supporters were taken out a back entrance to avoid the possibility of a confrontation with anyone upset about the sentencing decision. Robert Taman, Crystal Taman's husband, immediately objected to that suggestion, as it appeared to blame the Taman family and their supporters for creating the security risk.Taman said yesterday he was very surprised to hear about the voice mail threat, and noted that no one from the WPS or anyone else ever questioned a member of his family about being the source of any threat.Wolson also revealed in statements to the inquiry commission counsel that Harvey-Zenk claimed to have suffered a head injury in the accident that killed Taman, and subsequently suffered memory loss. It is not clear how Wolson was able to make this admission to the commission, given that he is still restricted in his comments by solicitor-client privilege. Notwithstanding those restrictions, on atleast four occasions referenced the head injury and memory loss.With Wolson now almost done, we can look forward to Tuesday's testimony starting with Minuk. It should be a very important day at the inquiry.-30-

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About Dan Lett

Dan Lett came to Winnipeg in 1986, less than a year out of journalism school.

Despite the fact that he’s originally from Toronto and has a fatal attraction to the Maple Leafs, Winnipeggers let him stay.

In the following years, he has worked at bureaus covering every level of government – from city hall to the national bureau in Ottawa.

He has had bricks thrown at him in riots following the 1995 Quebec referendum, wrote stories that helped in part to free three wrongly convicted men, met Fidel Castro, interviewed three Philippine presidents, crossed several borders in Africa illegally, chased Somali pirates in a Canadian warship and had several guns pointed at him.

In other words, he’s had every experience a journalist could even hope for. He has also been fortunate enough to be a two-time nominee for a National Newspaper Award, winning in 2003 for investigations.

Other awards include the B’Nai Brith National Human Rights Media Award and nominee for the Michener Award for Meritorious Public Service in Journalism.

Now firmly rooted in Winnipeg, Dan visits Toronto often but no longer pines to live there.


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