No evidence of lies in Peltier case
OTTAWA (CP) - There is no evidence anyone lied in hearings supporting the extradition of native activist Leonard Peltier on charges he murdered two FBI agents in North Dakota, Justice Minister Anne McLellan said Wednesday.
And even without the controversial testimony, McLellan told the justice committee other evidence overwhelmingly supports a decision to send Peltier back to the United States, where he is serving two consecutive life terms.
"The review...does conclude that there is no evidence of any fraud in the extradition process," said McLellan, who promised to soon release the review conducted by her predecessor, Allan Rock.
"I want to make it absolutely plain here today that the review further concludes that without the (controversial) affidavits there was sufficient evidence to justify extradition."
Peltier, onetime head of the American Indian Movement, was convicted of first-degree murder in the 1975 shooting deaths of two FBI agents.
The pair were initially wounded as they searched for a robbery suspect on the Pine Ridge Indian Reserve near the legendary Wounded Knee, then shot dead. Peltier has consistently denied he killed the men.
Peltier's case has become an international cause celebre, garnering support from the likes of former South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, actor Robert Redford and a host of other celebrities.
Peltier fled to Alberta after the murders. He was extradited a year later.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that some evidence used to win Peltier's extradition was tainted, particularly an affidavit given by a woman, Myrtle Poorbear, who said she saw him pull the trigger. She later recanted.
"Leonard Peltier was not extradited on the basis of an alleged fraudulent affidavit," McLellan told B.C. Reformer John Reynolds on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court of Canada refused leave to appeal the case. Since then, a witness known only as Mr.X told author Peter Mathiesson (sic) he killed the agents in self-defence.
[Note: In an Interview by E.K. Caldwell, Darelle "Dino" Butler states that the "story" of "Mr. X" was a complete fabrication.]
Rock ordered a review of Peltier's extradition in 1995. The project was completed in 1996 but the content of the document was protected under laws prohibiting release of communications between governments.
McLellan said the United States government gave Canada permission to release the material Wednesday.
"It will be a case of simply compiling the entire file and providing it."
©The Canadian Press, May 6, 1999