Judge moves Burwash Landing trial to Whitehorse
2 accused charged with unlawful confinement fear violence if they return to town
Yukon's chief judge has ruled it may be too dangerous to hold a trial in Burwash Landing for two accused men who say they fear violent retribution if they are forced to return to the community.
Burwash Landing is an Alaska Highway town with fewer than 100 residents.
The charges stem from a long-standing feud between two Johnson families in Burwash Landing that culminated in a violent weekend last summer.
One Burwash man has already been jailed 18 months. Two other men, Wilfred Sheldon and Derek Johnson, now face charges of unlawfully confining Colin Johnson.
In his ruling, Justice Ron Veale notes Colin Johnson has since committed suicide, and the family blames the two accused for his death.
One of the accused has already been assaulted. In court, a spouse testified that police told her "he got what he deserved." She says they are all now afraid to return to Burwash Landing, even if accompanied by RCMP.
Both accused are now under court orders to stay away from Burwash unless escorted by police.
Given the circumstances, Veale says the "evidence of actual retaliation" in this "violently-divided community" has convinced him the trial should be moved to Whitehorse.