Thursday, August 30, 2012

Canada's 2nd Big Headline In 2012, After Luka


Nearly two weeks after body parts started turning up across the GTA, police are now calling the grisly slaying of Guang Hua Liu a domestic crime.
The victim’s estranged boyfriend, 40-year-old Chun Qi Jiang of Scarborough, is charged with second-degree murder.
Police said Liu had been in a relationship with Jiang, a construction worker, for about four years, but could not confirm when they ended things. 

As news of the arrest spread Monday, more details of Liu’s mysterious life were revealed in interviews with family members.
Liu, 41, was the owner of Forget Me Not holistic spa on Eglinton Ave. E. near Midland Ave. Her remains were found spread along the Credit River in Mississauga and in West Highland Creek, a short walk from her Scarborough home.
Liu’s 21-year-old son described his mother as a woman with a complicated love life who had recently split up with a well-established professional from Peterborough — one of several men she had been dating, he told the Chinese-language newspaper Ming Pao.
 The son, Dong Hao Liu, referred to the Peterborough man as his mother’s “Caucasian boyfriend.”
Liu came to Canada from China in 2002 and was a Canadian citizen at the time of her death. She has an ex-husband in China, whom she divorced in the 1990s, according to refugee documents. She has another ex-husband in Canada, whom she split with several years ago and divorced more recently, according to her son.
The son said his mother’s Peterborough boyfriend supported her financially and gave her $30,000 to start a business.
He said his mother planned to sell Forget Me Not because her boyfriend expressed his dislike of the business choice. Asked whether the massage parlour was a front for prostitution, Dong Hao Liu told Ming Pao he had no idea. Rumours that she was selling the business to return to China with her husband are untrue, he added.
In early August, Liu had a row with her Peterborough boyfriend and moved from his house to the townhouse in Scarborough, the son said. 

The interview makes no mention of the accused, Chun Qi Jiang, who was charged after Ming Pao spoke to the son. He could not be reached for further comment about the arrest.
The accused is a Canadian citizen who emigrated from China in 2002 — the same year as Liu — and had no police record.
“He became a suspect early on,” Peel Regional Police Insp. George Koekkoek said Monday at a news conference.
Jiang appeared in court Monday morning and was remanded in custody until his next court appearance on Sept. 10.
Police are still trying to determine where and how Liu died. Investigators were searching for answers Monday in the Scarborough townhouse complex Jiang calls home.
The accused bought a brick townhouse in the complex on Brimwood Blvd. last fall for $280,000, records show.
The neighbourhood, near Finch Ave. E. and Brimley Rd., sits on a pleasant street corner adjacent to a small ravine. Paved pathways cut through neat yards that lead to rows of similar two-story townhouses with blue and maroon shutters.
Neighbours said Jiang kept to himself and that no one in the small complex knew him very well. He was often seen smoking or doing renovations in his backyard, laying concrete slabs and digging out a garden. He frequently had company, including many female guests, several neighbours said.
“There was always females coming in and out,” said Mustapha Abdullah, who lives in a townhouse nearby with his parents and brother.
But nothing about Jiang seemed unusual until a week ago, when the Abdullahs and other neighbours noticed the basement door to his townhouse was left wide open for several days.
“And his car was dented in the front and on the side. We thought that was weird,” said Malek Abdullah, Mustapha’s twin brother.
A few days later their mother, Salma Abdullah, had just returned from work when she noticed a man bent over a bucket in Jiang’s backyard, she said. The man, whose face she could not see, was wearing blue gloves and appeared to be scrubbing away at something on the ground. “That was two, three days ago,” she said.
Then on Sunday, police swarmed the neighbourhood, cordoning off Jiang’s townhouse with caution tape and parking police vehicles on the grassy courtyard in front of Jiang’s house.
Many residents assumed it was a drug bust. Most made the connection to the dismemberment homicide after watching the Monday morning news. 

With files from Lesley Ciarula Taylor, Alexandra Bosanac, Curtis Rush and Jennifer Yang

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Interview Material Could Be Key To Murder Trial

Amid all the forensic material gathered in the case of slain Chinese university student Lin Jun, an interview with a research subject known as “Jimmy” may seem insignificant.
But the motions to keep that interview confidential — introduced Friday by accused killer Luka Magnotta on the one hand, and the researchers on the other — are garnering attention across the country as they bring into direct opposition the desire to prosecute a heinous killing by all means available and the public interest in safeguarding the confidentiality promised to research subjects like Jimmy, who would otherwise remain silent.
If a judge quashes the motions and allows the interview to be included with other evidence, it will be a first in Canada, says Simon Fraser University criminologist John Lowman.
“I can’t imagine what they think is in that interview that would be relevant, which doesn’t meant there isn’t something,” Lowman said Tuesday. “But one has to ask what is in the other set of scales from the desire to prosecute this heinous crime … If criminologists are turned into (police) informers we cannot do our work. We would be left studying only convicted criminals — the failures — and it’s precisely the research we do with unconvicted criminals that is so important.”
Most of Magnotta’s case file is sealed pending his trial for first-degree murder, including the search warrant executed at the law offices of Lex Canada in Toronto on June 22, where police got hold of the interview, three weeks after Magnotta was arrested at an Internet cafĂ© in Berlin.
Magnotta’s Toronto lawyer, Luc Leclair, has declined to comment on why his client is trying to keep the interview out of the public domain. Magnotta often used the pseudonym Jimmy when seeking work as an escort or in pornographic films.
But the two researchers, University of Ottawa criminologists Christine Bruckert and Colette Parent whose work centres on the sex industry, are challenging the search warrant on the basis of “confidentiality privilege.” Like lawyers to clients, doctors to patients, journalists to sources, researchers must be able to promise their subjects strict confidentiality, Lowman argues — and defend that relationship in court.
In dozens of cases in the U.S., researchers have fought subpoenas and the courts have overwhelmingly upheld the confidentiality of their research. In only two cases have scholars gone to jail for contempt of court: Samuel Popkin of Harvard University went to jail for seven days for not divulging the source of the Pentagon Papers and Rik Scarce of Washington State University went to jail for 157 days when he refused to divulge his sources when studying animal rights activists, accused of blowing up a research facility.
But in Canada there has only been one previous case of a researcher being asked by the courts to identify a subject, former SFU criminologist Russell Ogden, who studied people who had assisted in the suicides of persons with AIDS.
When the Vancouver coroner in 1994 subpoenaed him to give evidence at an inquest, he refused. He argued that his research met the Wigmore criteria — a common law test administered to establish privilege: in short, that confidentiality was promised, essential to the relationship, used for a public good, and that breaking that confidence would produce more harm than benefit. The coroner agreed and no charges were brought against Ogden.
This second case, to be argued Aug. 31 in Quebec Superior Court, shows the need for Canada to come up with a framework similar to that of the “confidentiality certificates” granted in the U.S. by the Secretary of Health and Human Services where research on sensitive topics is protected from legal challenge, Lowman said.
Not all research in the U.S. is immune to legal challenge, however, as evidenced by the ongoing case of Boston College’s Belfast Project — an oral history of the Troubles in Northern Ireland based on 26 interviews with Irish Republican and Loyalist paramilitaries gathered between 2001-2006.
The British Government has subpoenaed two of the interviews in particular, and “any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville” — a woman from Northern Ireland who, in 1972, was abducted and killed by the Provisional IRA. The case is still before the courts, but while senators and congressmen in the U.S. press for the subpoenas to be withdrawn, Irish parliamentarians warn the matter could derail the Northern Ireland peace process.
“When you ask about the horrendous crime against Lin Jun, yes it is,” Lowman said. “But that’s what’s in the other pan on the scales of justice.”