Apr 24/96: Gustafsen Lake-Bail hearing


The Vancouver Sun
Wednesday, April 24, 1996, p. B1
Neal Hall

A defence lawyer took offence Tuesday at a Crown prosecutor's comment that he didn't want a bail hearing for two native Indian men charged with attempted murder turned into a circus.

"It's a circus every day for my client in jail," George Wool told B.C. Supreme Court Justice David Vickers at the hearing for Joseph Ignace, 24, and his father Jones Ignace, who face the charges as a result of last year's armed standoff at Gustafsen Lake.

He added the Crown should apologize for describing as a circus the desire for native Indian people to be heard.

Wool's passionate address to the court at the end of the two-day bail hearing was met with applause by native Indian supporters in a New Westminster courtroom, prompting Vickers to warn he would clear the court if there was another outburst.

Wool made the comments while trying to enter as evidence a police videotape that he said clearly showed police were the aggressors during an incident last Sept. 11 during the month-long armed standoff near 100 Mile House.

The footage showed a red pickup driving along a road being disabled by a land mine explosion and the two occupants of the vehicle fleeing unarmed, he said. The video then showed a Bison armored personnel carrier ramming the pickup and a dog in the back of the truck jumping out and being shot by police gunfire.

Wool said it had been a peaceful day at the camp until the police started shooting.

Crown prosecutor Lance Bernhard objected to the videotape being played at the bail hearing, saying it was not relevant and he didn't want the proceeding turned into a circus.

"The hearing will go on forever if your lordship sees all the evidence that will be seen at trial," he said.

The judge said he would hear further argument next Monday on whether the two accused should be granted bail.

Jones Ignace and his son are the only two in custody among the 18 accused charged in connection with the Gustafsen Lake standoff. A mass trial in Surrey will start June 3 and is expected to last all summer.

Wool urged the court to release his client, Joseph, because he suffers from Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. Ignace is suffering bouts of depression in Surrey Pretrial Centre and his condition is deteriorating, he said.

He suggested his client would be better off at home on the family farm in Chase with his mother, who would maintain control of her son with the help of the Adams Lake Band security force. Wool said there is clear evidence to show his client wasn't even at Gustafsen Lake during when the attempted murder allegedly took place last Aug. 18.

John Hill, also known as Splitting the Sky, testified Tuesday that Joseph Ignace left the Gustafsen Lake camp Aug. 8 and returned home.

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