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In Depth

Conrad Black

From the inside

A spectator's view of the bail hearing

Last Updated August 3, 2007

Susan Berger is a freelance journalist in Chicago. She has been in the courtroom since the beginning of the Conrad Black trial and writes a blog www.blacksjustice.com.

Conrad Black's bail hearing began at 3 p.m. Wednesday on a very hot, humid day in Chicago.

Black and his wife, Barbara Amiel, entered the courtroom at about 2:50. Black seemed to be wearing the same beige suit he wore during the last two hearings. Amiel wore a black suit, white blouse and ballet flats and carried a khaki print sun hat.

Just as was done at the beginning of all other sessions in Judge Amy St. Eve's court, the attorneys stood and introduced themselves. But unlike earlier sessions, Black remained standing during the introductions.

It was right to business for this judge. She announced the continuation of the bond hearing and reminded all parties that last time she left them with two questions, one of which took them one hour and five minutes to answer.

Eddie Greenspan corrected the judge and said it actually was one hour and three minutes.

"Since I am the fact-finder," St. Eve said, "it was one hour and five minutes."

That was perhaps the lightest moment of a 90-minute session that at times took some bizarre turns.

In excruciating detail, Greenspan detailed Hollinger Inc's objection to the company's assets being used for Black's bail. Greenspan then described an affidavit that was written by Juval Aviv, who was hired by Hollinger Inc. to investigate Black's financial holdings.

Aviv claimed that Black had been moving significant amounts of money around the world from 2005 to the present, alluding to the fact there are more funds available to be posted. He estimated that about $60 million was involved and transferred from the Channel Islands, the Caribbean, Luxembourg and Gibraltar.

Over the next hour or so in the court, Greenspan attempted to discredit Aviv, whom he called a con-artist and whose document he called hearsay and rumour and "a completely disreputable source."

Hoping to add to his argument that the judge should not rely on Aviv, Greenspan talked at length about other cases Aviv had worked on, including the bombing of a Pan Am airliner in 1988 over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes.

Black sat stone-faced during this argument, sometimes gazing at the ceiling. Amiel sat mostly expressionless as well.

But the prosecution team — Eric Sussman, Julie Ruder, Jeffrey Cramer and Ed Siskel — were hardly expressionless. They not only smiled, smirked, whispered, rolled their eyes and shot glances at each other but after awhile they were clearly trying hard not to laugh aloud. At one point, Ruder gestured as if to say "What is this?"

"The man is not just a liar, he is a damnable liar," Greenspan said. "This is all fabrication. He is an utterly untrustworthy, unreliable source."

As Greenspan continued his argument, Sussman appeared to be turning red and was biting his lip so as not to laugh. Ruder had her hand on her forehead, shaking her head.

In painstaking detail, Greenspan read off the account numbers of the so-called off-shore accounts in question and then proceeded to read off how small the debits and credits were.

"It would take 500 years for Mr. Black to move around funds worth $60 million," Greenspan said.

In the end, Greenspan's efforts were futile. Although the judge told Greenspan she would not rely on Aviv's report, and in spite of affidavits signed by Black giving his word he would return for sentencing, she said she would not allow Black to return to Canada.

"I do not think you have met your burden at this point," St. Eve said.

St. Eve said there did not appear to be additional funds, and added that while she is not detaining him, Black must remain in the Chicago area or Palm Beach.

"I am not concerned that he will run and hide because everything I have seen is actually contrary to that," St. Eve said.

She said she was concerned, based on what she has seen, that he might fight extradition.

Greenspan still tried to argue that his client be allowed to return to Toronto, explaining that Black is a fighter who wants to clear his name and that Toronto is his home and where his family is.

As for fleeing, Greenspan said Black is very recognizable and that, "If he didn't like Bora Bora, he's not going to like the Caribbean."

St. Eve said if in the months before the November sentencing the lawyers could provide additional assets, she would reconsider her decision.

When Black heard the judge's decision, the colour appeared to drain from his face. He clearly looked upset.

Amiel sighed heavily and ran her hands through her hair and shook her head.

And while the court proceedings ended at about 4:45 p.m., Black and his wife remained in the courtroom talking until about 5:10 p.m.

Black left holding Amiel's hand and when asked for a comment simply said to reporters, "Have a nice summer."

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RELATED

External Links

Hollinger investigation
Black indictment (pdf file)
Hollinger Inc.
The House of Lords

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