A BC Supreme Court appeal judge has refused to free native rights lawyer Bruce Clark on bail pending an appeal on a conviction for contempt of court. "I have no confidence he will surrender himself." Justice George Cumming said after a 90-minute Vancouver hearing, in which the appeal date was set for March 11.
The refusal to release Clark, who hopes to appear at the ongoing trial of 18 accused involved in the 1995 Gustafsen Lake standoff -- was criticized as another bid to muzzle the controversial lawyer.
His lawyer Manuel Azevedo, told the judge: "There is a perception, particularly among the aboriginal community, that there is some kind of conspiracy to suppress Mr. Clark's argument (of native land entitlement) or lock him away...there's this notion he's being singled out for his unorthodox views."
"The denial of bail shows how truly anxious they are to keep him away," said Clark's wife, Margaret. "They hate Bruce so much. They want him locked away." Clark, a New Brunswick lawyer who represents native bands across Canada, fled the country before an Oct. 18, 1995 court appearance on a charge of contempt of court.
He was accused of flinging a sheaf of papers at a court clerk, shouting at provincial Judge Nick Friesen and grappling with sheriffs. Clark was arrested by RCMP when he returned to BC on Feb.18.
Two days later, at a Williams Lake trial, Friesen found him guilty of contempt of court and sentenced him to three months in jail.
Clark is now in a Prince George jail, where he is completing a book and doing early-morning kitchen detail pending the appeal.
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