COYNE: LAVALIN CHAT OUT OF BOUNDS.
• A former SNC-Lavalin executive and a Montreal lawyer will not stand trial on charges alleging they tampered with a witness in the RCMP investigation into whether the engineering firm bribed Libyan government officials.Sami Abdellah Bebawi, a former executive vice-president of Lavalin, and his tax lawyer, Constantine Kyres, were charged in 2014 with obstructing justice.On Friday, Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer ruled that both men have waited too long for their case to be brought to trial and stayed the charges.“The file seemed to have been abandoned like a ship without a captain,” Cournoyer said, criticizing the Crown for failing to explain the delays.Cournoyer noted that the Crown was unable to explain why nothing happened on the file for 11 months even though the Supreme Court of Canada had just ruled at the time, in 2016, that long delays in criminal cases where no longer acceptable.Cournoyer pointed out that the Supreme Court’s decision was made 30 months ago, the same time limit the court set in 2016 for Superior Court cases to be dealt with. The judge said it was “frustrating” to see that the Supreme Court’s Jordan ruling changed nothing in terms of the Crown’s attitude toward the file.Bebawi is still facing charges of fraud and bribery involving Libyan officials in the government of the late Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.That case stems from the same Project Assistance investigation that led to charges against SNC-Lavalin. Those charges continue to fuel controversy in Ottawa following a report that the Prime Minister’s Office pressured former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould to help the company avoid criminal prosecution.After the court ruling Friday, Bebawi and Kyres declined to comment.Frank Pappas, Kyres’s lawyer, said he was “very satisfied” with the decision.“It has been a walk through the desert for me and my colleagues,” Pappas said in reference to the other defence attorneys in the case.He argued that the case should have been considered closed last year, after a judge ruled that the RCMP obtained evidence in the case illegally.“The Crown replied (to that ruling) with a nuclear attack (by attempting to proceed on a preferred indictment),” Pappas said. “We are satisfied that justice was delivered.The motion filed by Kyres’s lawyer noted that his client was first arrested more than five years ago, on Jan. 8, 2014. Kyres’s first court date was then pushed back three times until he and Bebawi were finally charged on Sept 18, 2014.Based on his calculations, Pappas argued his client had waited more than 62 months for his case to go to trial. That is more than double the limit set by the Supreme Court.Crown prosecutor Benoit Robert said there has been no decision on an appeal.
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