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Pickton case: opposition to the destruction of evidence

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Robert Pickton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years. (Archive photo)

Radio-Canada

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Advocates and families of women murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton say they are opposed to recent requests filed by the British Columbia Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) proposing the destruction or return of thousands of items of evidence seized during the police investigation.

The group says a letter was sent Monday, December 11 to the federal Minister of Public Safety, the Commissioner of the RCMP as well as the Attorney General and Solicitor General of British Columbia. It was reportedly supported by more than 40 organizations across Canada.

The group is made up of lawyers, victims' families and advocates for missing and murdered women. He is due to hold a press conference on Monday and wants immediate action to be taken to preserve the evidence used to convict Robert Pickton.

This Coquitlam pig farmer was convicted in 2007 of six counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of women who had been reported missing from the Downtown Eastside neighborhood of Vancouver. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 25 years.

In 2010, after the Supreme Court upheld his sentence, 20 more first-degree murder charges were stayed because Robert Pickton was already serving the maximum sentence. The DNA of 33 women was found on his farm.

The Pickton trial was one of the most expensive and publicized in Canada. His trial was preceded by one of the largest police investigations in the country's history, which included thousands of pieces of evidence.

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The police investigation is the subject of criticism. Civil proceedings have also been filed against Robert Pickton, the RCMP and the Vancouver police.

The RCMP, for its part, had presented an apology for not quickly stopping the serial killer. We could have done more, Deputy Commissioner Craig Callens said in January 2012.

In 2020, the RCMP began filing court applications for judicial authorization to dispose of exhibits that had been presented during the 2007 trial. The long list includes a high-heeled shoe woman, a pink pillowcase or even a syringe.

The letter is co-signed by Sue Brown, director and lawyer of the group Justice for Girls , and by Dr. Sasha Reid. The latter is at the origin of a database on missing persons and unsolved murders in Canada.

For the families of these victims, justice could not be taken and they maintain the hope of one day knowing what happened to their loved ones , we can read in the letter.

The elimination of evidence will dash any remaining hope and reinforce their perception that their daughters, mothers, sisters and aunts are less important than the space required to preserve this evidence, the letter authors continue. p>

In addition to a moratorium on the return or destruction of evidence related to the Pickton case, the letter calls for legislative reform on how evidence from cold cases is handled, as well as increased accountability within the the RCMP and the prioritization of police resources for unsolved missing women cases linked to Pickton. This, the letter reads, is to ensure that this can lead to prosecutions and reparations for victims.

In a statement, the British Columbia RCMP indicated that although the word destruction is used, the evidence is preserved.

To be clear, as all possible evidence has been seized and preserved, the disposal of the property will not affect future prosecutions

A quote from Kris Clark, RCMP Staff Sergeant

Clearly, the RCMP is not authorized to keep property indefinitely and is asking the court for the destruction of this property, specifies the press release.

According to the RCMP, this procedure is required by law and is intended to return property to its rightful owners, if applicable, or to dispose of unclaimed items.

The RCMP says it is working closely with the families of the victims to return their property and with First Nations to x27;ensure evidence is handled in a culturally respectful manner.

With information from The Canadian Press and Chad Pawson

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