Wednesday, November 28, 2007

"Reluctant" Schreiber to Testify Thursday at 11 a.m.

The legal wrangling over Karlheinz Schreiber's pending testimony to a Parliamentary ethics committee took a decisive turn yesterday, with the rare issuance of a Speaker's Warrant, compelling his attendance.

CTV reports that Schreiber has in fact has "left the Toronto West Detention Centre and is on his way to Ottawa where he has been called to testify before the parliamentary ethics committee."

CBC reports:

There are no further legal obstacles blocking Karlheinz Schreiber from appearing on Parliament Hill Thursday to discuss his dealings with former prime minister Brian Mulroney, says the vice-chair of the federal ethics committee.

Speaking to CBC News on Wednesday, Pat Martin said a rare Speaker's warrant, issued Tuesday, overrides Schreiber's extradition order and compels him to travel to Ottawa to testify in front of the committee.

...Ontario Provincial Police will take Schreiber to Ottawa from a Toronto jail, where he has been waiting to be extradited to Germany as early as Saturday to face fraud charges. He could be in the nation's capital later Wednesday or early Thursday, said Martin

...Martin said the committee has "vetoed the minister's right" to deport Schreiber until its finished with him.

"It's our belief our Speaker's warrant has primacy over the extradition warrant. "We believe that trumps the extradition order," he said."If the minister of justice tried to execute it, he'd be in contempt of Parliament."

A Speaker's warrant is similar to a subpoena and ignoring it could bring a jail sentence.

On Tuesday, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said he doesn't have the authority to delay Schreiber's extradition.

Ethics committee chair Paul Szabo and parliamentary legal counsel Rob Walsh disagreed with the minister, saying he has the authority to amend the deportation order.

In an e-mail to CBC News on Tuesday, Schreiber's lawyer Edward Greenspan accused the justice minister of working against his client.

"The minister of justice is doing everything in his power to have him removed (from Canada) as soon as possible," he wrote.

"It appears to me that the prime minister is speaking out of one side of the government's mouth and the minister of justice is speaking out of the other."

The "every-playful" Schreiber, however, hints that he may no longer be so anxious to tell his story, after all:

We don't know of any other barriers that could get in the way, except, it's been hinted at today, Mr. Schreiber might not be willing to talk under these circumstances," said Martin.

.....Schreiber, who must change back into the prison garb after he's finished testifying, will stay at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre until the committee has completed its questioning, said Martin.

"These are terms he's not exactly thrilled about," he said. "He doesn't have any choice about whether he's coming and that is happening. Whether he's a hostile witness remains to be seen."

Also see:

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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