Mainstream media coverage of Ts'peten trial - February 4 / 97


The Province
Tuesday, February 4, 1997, Page A4
by Holly Horwood, Staff Reporter

Gustafsen Lake natives' lawyer Bruce Clark was disliked so intensely that the RCMP operation commander wanted to "kill this Clark and smear the prick and everyone with him."

But the comments by Sgt. Dennis Ryan, captured on an RCMP "training tape," were only intended to reflect the frustration of his "upset" boss, Supt. Len Olfert, a B.C. Supreme Court jury was told yesterday.

"I'm taking Supt. Olfert's displeasure with Clark (to colleagues)," said Ryan, referring to Clark's apparent refusal to deliver on promises about ending the 1995 standoff.

"It's earthy language at the meeting, a figure of speech," he told defence lawyer George Wool. "It's like you saying, 'I hate it when clients don't pay."'

Ryan has repeatedly had to explain his terms, including "smear campaign" and "campaign of misinformation," which he used at an RCMP strategy meeting at the height of the month-long armed siege.

He has said he was delivering directives from Olfert, who told Ryan at a private meeting earlier that day he wanted the media to take a more "proactive" role in the tense standoff. "I know the superintendent was upset with Clark and that's the end of it," said Ryan, the RCMP's chief negotiator in the siege. "The rest of it were my words."

Fourteen natives and four non-natives are on trial for charges from trespassing to attempted murder in the siege which ended Sept. 17, 1995.

Yesterday, Vancouver-based RCMP Insp. Gary Bass angrily denied he tried to cover up his probe into an incident in which RCMP sharpshooters shot at a native Indian in an agreed-upon "no-fire zone."

Bass said he does not have any record of a conversation between himself and Insp. Roger Kemble, who authorized the Sept. 12 shooting. He also does not have notes of a meeting when he raised concerns about the potentially damaging incident with then-RCMP Chief Supt. Murray Johnston.

"You do not record events that are embarrassing or of a concern to the RCMP," said Wool.

"That's absolutely not the case," snapped Bass. "What you're saying is I tried to cover this up. Is that what you're saying?"

He noted there is now an internal review of the case.

The court also heard that the military and the media were fed misinformation about a Sept. 4 incident in which the RCMP reported being "stalked" and shot at by the native renegades.

Two days after the alleged shooting, Olfert and two other senior officers claimed that a bullet was recovered from the RCMP vehicle to bolster their request for military armored personnel carriers. But no bullet was recovered.

"That wasn't my concern," said Bass of the incorrect information. "My role was to investigate what happened . . . it's never been totally resolved."

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