An Ontario court has given permission to media outlets to broadcast a videotaped police interview with convicted killer Paul Bernardo on television newscasts and the internet.
Bernardo was interviewed in a Kingston jail last June 7 about the disappearance of University of Toronto student Elizabeth Bain, 22.
Although Ontario Superior Court Justice David McCombs had signalled last week that he was prepared to release the video for television broadcast, he still had to decide whether to make it available online.
The Crown had opposed the use of the entire 31-minute video on the internet, arguing it could be misused by the public.
"The Bernardo video does not contain graphic images or descriptions of Bernardo's crimes. If it did, my conclusion would have been different," McCombs said in his decision.
"Open justice and public scrutiny are core values in our justice system … unless the press has access to court information and exhibits they are unable to provide the information to the public."
Bain has not been seen since June 19, 1990, when she told her parents she was going to her school's Scarborough campus to check the tennis schedules. Her car was found a few blocks away with blood on the back seat, but her body was never found.
Her boyfriend, Robert Baltovich, was originally convicted of second-degree murder in her death and spent eight years in jail before his acquittal by an Ontario Superior Court at a second trial one month ago.
Tape never played in court
Baltovich's lawyers have maintained that Bernardo, who confessed in 2005 to a series of rapes in Scarborough, could be Bain's killer.
Various media organizations had asked Justice David McCombs at a Superior Court in Toronto to release the Bernardo interview, which was to be presented as evidence in Baltovich's most recent court case. A transcript of the interview had been released to the public.
CBC News has reviewed the tape and decided not to broadcast the full interview.
'Actually, the decision is very good...a judge stood up for the media and gave them rights and freedoms...which is always a good thing.'
—Shifty Calhoun<a href=http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2008/06/10/bernardo-interview.html#postc> Add your comment</a>[/CUSTOM]
Bernardo denies involvement in Bain's death
Baltovich's lawyers want the public to see Bernardo's demeanour during the Kingston Penitentiary interview so they can better assess his credibility.
During the police interview, when asked directly whether he killed Bain, Bernardo appeared somewhat evasive and at first replied:
"Well, that's a loaded question. I mean, are we going to go back and go through the time sequence of what happened in my life? I mean, I could just give a yes or no answer. But you know, there are a lot of issues about that first."
He also said: "I've given you directions to go find the truth and no one has done that."
Later in the interview with police, Bernardo again addressed the topic of whether he was involved in Bain's death. He said that "the answer to that is, no. But the 800-pound gorilla in the room is that's a life-25 sentence, you know. It really comes down to credibility."
Asked whether he had anything to do with her disappearance, he said no, and that he didn't think he knew Bain.
Dressed in a white long-sleeve shirt, Bernardo spends much of the time in the interview complaining that police are trying to paint him as a liar over admissions he had made regarding some sexual assaults.
"I’m a human being and to say that I’m a dangerous offender, and I’m raping and killing and all of this stuff is fine, free publicity, tough on crime, get that bad guy," Bernardo says.
"I made mistakes, I made mistakes a long time ago but don’t say that today about me because then we’re lying and we’ve got a big problem because I’m looking at you and you’re the bad guys. Because I’m not doing anything wrong. I’m telling the truth and you guys are walking around issuing statements that I lied here, I lied there."
At one point, Hoover plays Bernardo an audio clip of a conversation between a police officer and Bernardo's ex-wife, Karla Homolka, in which Homolka said the only thing Bernardo ever said about the Bain case was that he thought the boyfriend did it.
But Bernardo denies he ever said that, saying he didn’t know the facts of the case to make a judgment.
"I didn’t watch the news back then. I was too busy doing other things.
"The profile is, 'serial killer pays attention to all the news media, narcissistic personality, blah blah blah and all that crap.'
"I don’t know anything about this case now. I don’t know if this guy did it. I don’t really care."
Bernardo denied he ever knew Baltovich and said he has purposely avoided the case.
"I’ve had 100 lifetimes of all this stuff, I don’t want my mind poisoned with this and this and this. This case I avoided as much as possible."
Bernardo is serving a life sentence for the first-degree murders of Ontario schoolgirls Leslie Mahaffy and Kristen French. He was declared a dangerous offender in November 1995, which means he will almost certainly serve the rest of his life in jail.