At 2:28 PM, the 7 woman, 5 man jury were sequestered to consider their verdict in the marathon trial of the Ts'peten Defenders.
Justice Bruce Josephson's last day of his half-week charge to the jury included the rather startling instructions that "no defence based on colour of right arises in this trial". The colour of right argument, ie. that the defendants honestly and sincerely believed that their position was legal and necessary, constituted a major portion of the defence. In one sentence, the judge dismissed weeks of testimony by defence witnesses.
In addition to summarizing the crown's contention that "police responded appropriately" and that "past injustices do not justify" the defendants' response, Josephson advised the jury not to concern theirselves with the consequences of their verdict: "Let the chips fall where they may."
Shouts of "Freedom" were exchanged by imprisoned defendants OJ Pitawanakwat and Shuswap traditionalist elder Wolverine, aka Jones William Ignace. They and 16 others are charged with offenses ranging from mischief to attempted murder in connection with the month-long RCMP and Canadian armed forces siege of sacred Sundance grounds at Ts'peten (Gustafsen Lake) in 1995. RCMP have admitted to firing tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, used in conjunction with armoured personnel carriers and land mines. If convicted, the accused could face life sentences.
Ts'peten Defence Committee spokespeople:
Bill Lightbown - Phone: (604) 251-4949
Splitting the Sky - Phone/Fax: (604) 543-9661