By Staff Writers
First Nations Summit Grand Chief Ed John has sent a letter to Attorney-General Geoff Plant demanding an end to the funding impasse in the Robert Pickton murder case.
“In this case, the families deserve action. The sooner this thing gets resolved, the better,” said John, in a recent interview.
John will urge the provincial government to provide sufficient defense funding to get the case against Pickton moving through the provincial courts.
Pickton is charged with killing 15 of the 63 missing women from Vancouver’s downtown eastside. Almost half of the missing women are of aboriginal descent.
Ernie Crey, whose sister Dawn is one of the missing women, said he talked to John about the funding dispute that can possibly delay Pickton’s preliminary hearing for a second time.
“The families are getting very anxious and nervous. If it is a matter of funding, get it resolved. We are looking on. We are concerned,” said Crey.
Crey said all the legal wrangling has created much uncertainty for some of the family members.
“British Columbians are looking on and it looks like there is just this little disgraceful skirmish on the side that could derail this whole thing completely,” said Crey. “That’s what is scaring me and that is what has been scaring me all along.”
Pickton’s lawyer, Peter Richie, is continuing to negotiate with lawyers for the provincial government behind closed doors about a funding arrangement.
Port Coquitlam court judge David Stone agreed to adjourn the November 4 preliminary hearing, but only until November 12, so the funding impasse could be resolved. Stone said no further delays would be granted.
Richie said that he expects the funding issue to be resolved “one way or another.”
Pickton has been refused legal aid because of his interest in two large properties, but has applied for government funding under what is called a Rowbotham application, which is reserved for people who do not normally qualify for legal aid.
Robert “Willy” Pickton has denied any involvement of the murders, which have occurred since 1983. Charges were brought after his Port Coquitlam pig farm was raided in February this year. Since February, the investigation has focused on the suburban pig farm and gravel pit owned by the Pickton family in Port Coquitlam, where more than 100 officers and forensic scientists are still scouring the site literally inch by inch.
The search is expected to continue for at least a year.
Mr. Pickton, 52, owns the pig farm in Port Coquitlam, together with his brother Dave and his sister.
The two brothers also operated a drinking club known as “Piggy’s Palace” near the farm, a haunt for bikers and prostitutes.
All of the murder charges involve women who vanished from Vancouver’s seedy downtown eastside, an area frequented by drug addicts and prostitutes.
The 63 women have vanished from the area over the past two decades, and a massive police investigation began last year.