Saturday, July 31, 2010

Active Participation

Robert "Willy" Pickton is likely to stay behind bars for the rest of his life. Yesterday the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the appeal of his 2007 conviction in the murders of six women missing from Vancouver's Downtown East Side.

Pickton's defence lawyers had argued that BC Supreme Court Judge James Williams had erred in instructing the jury, seeking clarification during their deliberations, that they could find Pickton guilty of murder if they agreed he had "actively participated" in the killings--thereby implying Pickton did not act alone. This, Pickton's lawyers said, contradicted a previous statement by Williams to the jury that said in finding the Coquitlam pig farmer guilty they must determine that he was "solely responsible" for the women's deaths.

In June 2009, in a 2-1 decision, the BC Court of Appeal agreed that Williams had erred in his final instructions to the jury, but that those mistakes were not serious enough to merit another trial. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada agreed, meaning that Pickton's legal avenues are exhausted and that the Crown will not reopen the cases of 20 more missing women whose murders Pickton had been charged with, charges that were stayed upon Williams issuing Pickton in 2007 six consecutive life sentences.

But there are more than 20 other women missing from the Downtown East Side whom Pickton himself is alleged to have boasted killing. And 20 more who still remain unaccounted for by the Missing Women's Task Force. Which, by the way, is still active.

As it should remain, especially after years of willful inaction on the part of various institutional state apparatuses in seeking answers not just to where these women are, but why they went missing in the first place.


No comments: