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Saturday, 17 September 2011

Jurors granted greater anonymity in trial into gang-related New Year’s triple-murder


When jurors take their seats at the trial of two men accused in a gang-related triple homicide that is to begin on Monday, they will be shielded by new provisions designed to protect their anonymity. Recent amendments to the Criminal Code mean that members of the seven-man, five-woman jury selected Friday will only be referred to by their number, not their names, during the first-degree murder trial of Michael Joseph Roberto and Nathan Lawrence Zuccherato. Roberto, 27, and Zuccherato, 24, are among four men accused of having a role in the shooting deaths of FOB Killers member Sanjeev Mann, his friend Aaron Bendle and bystander Keni Su’a at the Bolsa Restaurant on New Year’s Day 2009. The Bolsa killings were the deadliest incident in a long-running conflict between the FOB and FOB Killers gangs that has claimed at least 25 lives since 2002. Friday’s jury selection took place amid heightened security, with uniformed and plainclothes Calgary police officers bolstering the presence of Alberta sheriffs who normally guard the courtroom. Once the jury and two male alternates were selected, Justice Earl Wilson dismissed them until Monday. Wilson also sent them away with a stern warning not to search the Internet or media for information about the highly publicized killings. “I know we’re all curious people — it’s human nature,” Wilson said, adding the only evidence they are supposed to consider is what will be presented in court. “For this time period, don’t do it.” The Criminal Code amendments allowing courts to increase the anonymity of jurors came into effect in August, meaning the Bolsa trial is likely the first time they’ll be used in Alberta. Although jurors’ identities are already protected from publication, it’s common for their names to be said in open court. The new provisions, however, eliminate the use of their names during the proceedings as an added protection. Their use in this case makes sense considering the case’s connection to a bloody Calgary gang war, Mount Royal University criminologist Doug King said. “It’s clear the court is concerned about any possible harm that could come to those who serve as jury members. It’s no doubt a precaution, as opposed to something to be concerned or alarmed about,” he said. Meanwhile, cases against two others accused in connection with the killings are proceeding separately. Real Christian Honorio will stand trial on three counts of first-degree murder beginning on Nov. 21. Nicholas Rodrigo Hovanesian was supposed to go on trial at the same time as Zuccherato and Roberto, however, his case was adjourned after health problems rendered his lawyer unable to go ahead. A new date hasn’t been scheduled. In addition to three counts of first-degree murder, Hovanesian is charged with kidnapping Bendle the night before the shootings.



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