Indian-Canadians outraged by verdict overturn
The Indian-Canadian community in Vancouver has been outraged by a court's decision to overturn the life sentence of a woman convicted for brutally beating and drowning Indian origin teenager Reena Virk in 1997.Updated: Sep 06, 2008, 13:18 IST
The Indian-Canadian community in Vancouver has been outraged by a court's decision to overturn the life sentence of a woman convicted for brutally beating and drowning Indian origin teenager Reena Virk in 1997.
The beating and drowning of the 14-year-old girl in Victoria near Vancouver by Kelly Ellard and her friends made international headlines and shook Canadians.
The Indian-Canadian community was jolted again on Friday when the British Columbia Court of Appeal in Vancouver overturned Ellard's conviction and ordered a retrial.
Shockingly, Ellard, now 25, was convicted after three trials. This will be her fourth trial.
In her first trial in 2000, she was found guilty of second-degree murder but the verdict was overturned when she appealed. Her second trial ended in a hung jury in 2004. The third trial ended in life term for her in April 2005.
In overturning her conviction, the court said the trial judge made mistakes in his instructions to the jury over the testimony of a witness named Marissa Bowles.
The court said her (Bowles's) testimony at the trial was not consistent with what she told police 10 days after the tragedy.
"It is a cruel joke on us after 11 years. Believe me, there is no justice system in Canada," Manjit Virk, father of the victim, told IANS on phone from Victoria.
"The justice system in this country is self-serving. The judges and the lawyers don't have any feelings. They are in it for money. They don't feel how their verdict will impact us," he said.
Virk said the defence team is being paid by Canadian taxpayers.
"So, who bothers? They will drag this case to make big bucks. The jury did a great job last time, but the defence has succeeded in getting the conviction overturned. My family has gone through hell for 11 years. We don't want to open our old wounds," he said.
"Having seen how cruelly the Canadian system works, we will not attend the fresh trial. We don't want to look back," he added.
Many prominent Indian-Canadians called Friday's verdict "a joke on the Canadian system".
Reena Virk was brutally beaten under a waterway bridge by some teenage girls and a boy she was hanging out with on the night of Nov 14, 1997.
When she tried to get away from them after the first beating, she was dragged to the edge of the waterway by Ellard and her friend Warren Glowatski, beaten and left to drown.
Glowatski, who was convicted of second-degree murder, is now out on parole. Six other teenagers were given minor sentences as they were under 14.
Reena's father has written her life story in a book titled "Reena: A Father's Story", to be released next month in Canada.