Schreiber extradition reprieve could lead to bail
November 30, 2007
TORONTO -- Karlheinz Schreiber was granted a reprieve on Friday from imminent extradition to Germany, but his lawyer complained his case has become “purely political” and accused the government of doing its utmost to get rid of his client before he can testify at a public inquiry.
Edward Greenspan made his scathing comments outside of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Toronto after a judge signed off on an deal between the German-Canadian arms dealer’s legal team and the Department of Justice giving Schreiber time to ask the Supreme Court of Canada to consider a last ditch effort to overturn his extradition order - a process that will likely take months.
Had the court order not been made, Schreiber could have been surrendered to Germany as of 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
But Greenspan called the fact he even had to get an agreement for a stay in the first place “stupid” and “silly,” since in the last 45 extradition cases where applications were sought for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court a reprieve from removal was automatic.
“This is an utter waste of time,” said Greenspan. “This is a venomous attack for no reason.
“I think they’re treating it differently in the Department of Justice, because most cases in the Department of Justice are legal but this is purely political... The minister of Justice wants Mr. Schreiber out of Canada and is prepared to put up any roadblock that he can - even where that road block is ridiculous.”
A warrant by Germany seeking Schreiber’s extradition to face charges of fraud, bribery and tax evasion in his homeland was forwarded to Canada in 1999.
Schreiber, a Canadian citizen, has been fighting to stay here for close to nine years.
From behind bars at the Toronto West Detention Centre where he has been detained for eight weeks, he cast himself as a central player in a revived political scandal and made revelations that sparked a public inquiry into his dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney.
However even as he promised he had important new information to reveal and the opposition clamouring to keep him in Canada, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson claimed he could do nothing to delay handing over Schreiber as the clock ticked down to his extradition.
Greenspan said Friday he now doubts the earnestness of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to call an inquiry.
“I don’t even have that much faith any more that there’s going to be a public inquiry,” he said.
“It seems to me that the government speaks out of both sides of its mouth. The prime minister is saying: ‘I want a public inquiry’ and the minister of Justice is saying: ‘Get this guy out of here as fast as we can.’ It strikes me as a concerted effort to make sure they look like they want a public inquiry, but what they really want is Mr. Schreiber out of here.”
Under the deal between Schreiber and the Department of Justice, his lawyers have a deadline of Jan. 15 to file their materials with the Supreme Court for the application for leave, while the government has given itself just half of the usual 30-day period to respond. It will likely be several weeks or months before the high court decides whether to accept Schreiber’s latest appeal - his third - and if they do, many more months, or even years to hear the case and make a decision.
However Schreiber’s next step is to seek bail.
Greenspan said he will seek the consent of the Department of Justice to have him released and if he doesn’t get it, he will back to court. The soonest a hearing could take place is early next week which could see Schreiber out of custody by Tuesday or Wednesday.
Schreiber is scheduled to return before the House of Commons ethics committee Tuesday after tantalizing them Thursday with hints about his relationship with Mulroney despite first refusing to testify.
Greenspan, who had drafted the statement Schreiber made indicating his unwillingness to testify for the committee, refused to comment Friday on his client’s garrulousness.
Schreiber was given permission by the committee to go anywhere he needed to review more than 35,000 documents spanning nearly three decades in Canada to refresh his memory about events. But his lawyer questioned whether he will be able to do that properly in the Ottawa jail to which he was transferred this week - and whether that personal archive is safe.
“It’s simply the wrong environment for anyone to properly prepare to go to court and I do not believe that the privilege issue applies,” Greenspan said. “Whatever comes in to a jail can be reviewed and is reviewed by jail authorities and this does not mean that these are secure documents. They’re not.”
Greenspan said: “A royal commission or a public inquiry is the only way that I think justice may be done,” Greenspan said.