Glen Eugene Assoun's fate uncertain as judge reserves decision
Assoun is asking for a review of his case, alleges a miscarriage of justice took place
A justice of the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has reserved decision in the case of convicted murderer Glen Eugene Assoun. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1999 for stabbing his former girlfriend, but he has always maintained his innocence.
Assoun has asked the Criminal Conviction Review Group of the federal justice department to review his case. A preliminary assessment by a lawyer for the group suggests there may have been a miscarriage of justice leading to Assoun's conviction.
Lawyers for Assoun, the federal Department of Justice and the provincial Public Prosecution Service want that preliminary assessment sealed and banned from publication.
Patricia MacPhee, a federal Department of Justice lawyer, told Justice James Chipman the material was preliminary and is protected under federal privacy law and should remain sealed.
Assoun's lawyer, Philip Campbell, supported the federal position.
Campbell hopes to use information in that preliminary assessment to get Assoun out of prison while the justice department completes its investigation. Campbell is applying for what's called an interim release order, which is similar to bail.
Chipman has scheduled a hearing on the interim release for next month.
MacPhee said the Department of Justice doesn't object to the interim assessment being used at that hearing, but only on the condition it remain sealed.
A lawyer for the Public Prosecution Service also supports the request for a sealing order, saying the assessment contains unproven allegations that could be damaging to some individuals.
Brenda Way was a prostitute and evidence from other prostitutes were presented at Assoun's trial in 1999. Lawyer Marion Fortune-Stone said those vulnerable witnesses need to be protected.
The CBC is opposing the bid to seal the interim assessment and impose a publication ban. Lawyer Alan Parish expressed frustration that he was trying to make arguments on documents he is not allowed to see.
"There is no evidence here that anyone was promised confidentiality," Parish said in his arguments.
Parish also said the ban is contrary to the open-court principle.
Chipman told court he would hand down his ruling before Nov. 24, which is when the interim release hearing is scheduled to begin.
Assoun is serving his life sentence in a B.C. prison. His lawyer asked the court to start the process to transfer him to Nova Scotia before next month’s hearing.