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The thing about Frank

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What bothers me most is how long Frank Ostrowski is being left to dangle.

For a reason that escapes me is that it's coming up to five years since he was released on bail and still there's been no decision on whether he should be added to the list of the wrongfully convicted. 

I've been following his case since they day he was convicted, in part because the victim went to my elementary school a long time ago.

Was Frank wrongfully convicted of murder? Did he get a fair trial? Did the jury hear all the evidence? We've known the answer to that last question for a while.

Ostrowski's application to have his 1987 murder conviction reviewed is now supposedly on the way to federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay, if not on his desk already, for a final decision. MacKay has the power to order a new trial for Ostrowski or to refer his case to the Court of Appeal of Manitoba.

I'm told by people with bigger brains than me that these things take time. There are people to interview, reports to write and people to consult. Things to think about.

Whatever.

Part of me thinks Frank's been left to dangle because they just want him to die. He's in his mid-60s and not in the best of health, although he has dropped a few pounds since his release from prison.

If Frank kicks the bucket MacKay will be spared making a decision and the Province of Manitoba spared the embarrassment of explaining another wrongful conviction. The others are Thomas Sophonow, James Driskell and Kyle Unger. 

The powers-that-be will also be spared forking over a boatload of cash to Ostrowski for locking him up for 23 years if it's decided the key was turned on a bad conviction. Unger wants roughly a million a year for the 14 years he was imprisoned.

I very much doubt Frank would want less.

Helping Frank is the recent case of Romeo Phillion.

The Ontario Court of Appeal ruled that it would be wrong to deny Phillion, who spent 31 years behind bars for murder protesting his innocence, a chance at suing prosecutors and two Ottawa police officers for $14 million, alleging negligence and wrongdoing.

With Frank's case, I wonder if an argument could be made--again, should it be determined he was wrongfully convicted--that not only should he be fairly compensated for the 23 years he spent in prison, but also for the length of time it took to make a decision.

It's a cliché, but for justice to be done, it must be seen to be done. Each day Frank spends waiting should be added to the bill.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

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About Larry Kusch and Bruce Owen

Larry Kusch has been a journalist for 30 years, the last 20 with the Winnipeg Free Press. His is one of the newspaper's two legislative bureau reporters.

Raised on a Saskatchewan farm, he received an honours journalism degree from Carleton University in 1975.

At the Free Press, Larry has also worked as a general assignment reporter, business reporter, copy editor and assistant city editor.

Bruce Owen joined the Winnipeg Free Press in 1990 after four years working in other media.

He's worked in a number of positions at the Freep, including pet columnist, assistant city editor and police reporter. Right now he takes up space at the Manitoba legislature.

Bruce is one of five reporters who won a National Newspaper Award for the paper’s coverage of the 1997 Flood of the Century. He's also the recipient of the 1996 Volunteer Centre of Winnipeg Media Golden Hand Award and the 1995 Canadian Federation of Humane Societies Media Commendation Award.

In a past life Bruce worked at YMCA-YWCA Camp Stephens. He has a blog where he and others write about camp and the people who worked and played there.

You can also find Bruce on Twitter where he posts and retweets all sorts of stuff.

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