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Earlier Q&A

Covering the Pickton trial

Continued from Page 1

Police from the Missing Women Task Force rarely spoke to reporters.

Sir Laifalot from Canada writes: It seems very clear to me that Pickton didn't act alone, couldn't have done all that he did over such a long period of time without some sort of help from a third party, why did the police not pursue this further? ... Whatever happened to the remains that were not discovered, did anyone check the sale of pigs & trace it down?

Robert Matas: The defence team raised questions about the role of Mr. Pickton's brother Dave, his close friend Dinah Taylor and his business associate Pat Casanova. The police conducted an unprecedented forensic investigation into the Pickton property in their search for evidence. Don Adam, head of the Missing Women Task Force, said police found no evidence to link Dave Pickton, Ms. Taylor or Mr. Casanova to the crimes.

Isabelle W from Canada writes: Hi Robert, Do you think that the jury had trouble listening to several details of the trial ? Specifically, did you see any of them look upset or disturbed by some of the details or did they not show their reactions? Thanks.

Robert Matas: On a day of the most graphic evidence, the judge called a time-out to allow some of the jurors to regain their composure. Some left the jury box with tears in their eyes. However they returned about half-hour later, ready to resume. Otherwise, the jury members carried on with their duties, rarely showing what toll the evidence was taking on them.

Bernard Bomer from Vancouver Canada writes: Dear Mr Matas, ... How easy it would be to provide a safe working environment for sex-workers in a protected environment. When? And why not?

Robert Matas: A trial is not an inquiry into prostitution, although the raw life of the street was exposed with unusual clarity during testimony by numerous prostitutes. Based on the testimony heard in court, the core of the problem is drug addiction and not prostitution. Several women who came to court said they sold sex to pay for drugs. They left the impression they would not work as prostitutes if they did not have an addiction. Dealing with drugs may be the most effective way to deal with prostitution.

Carolyn Bongiorno from Glenham, NY United States writes: I would have preferred that the victims be called drug addicted 'women', not just dismissed in death as prostitutes. They were women who worked as prostitutes. A little dignity and compassion here, SVP.

Catalina Nina from Canada writes: I find it interesting but deplorable that in a short description of a murderer's sentencing, the editors consider relevant to include details about the murdered women, i.e. drug-addicted prostitutes, as if that made the murders somewhat less serious.

Robert Matas: The reference to women as drug-addicted prostitutes is essential for an appreciation of what Mr. Pickton was doing. His actions were beyond comprehension. But it is important to realize that these women were easy targets for Mr. Pickton in part because they were prostitutes who sold their bodies from street corners and they were drug addicts. Some media refer to the women as sex trade workers. That is a concocted phrase that tries to hide what the women do.

Linda J. from North Vancouver Canada writes: Q. for Robert Matas - Please clarify... The judge determined no parole for the maximum 25 years, but do the years he has already spent in custody account for any of the time he will spend? And what happens after the 25 years? Will he be released as having 'served the time for his crime' as Karla Homolka was, and resume walking and living among us, with no reporting requirements of any kind? I have read dozens of articles since the decision by the jury, and have not seen these questions addressed.

Robert Matas: Mr. Pickton was arrested on Feb 22, 2002. He was sentenced on Sunday to life in prison with eligibility for full parole after 25 years. The 25-year period begins from the time of his arrest. He does not receive double time for the time served before he was convicted. The time is considered straight time.

Mr. Pickton, who is 58 now, is under the jurisdiction of Corrections Canada for the rest of his life. At best, he could apply for parole, which is a form of released under supervised conditions.

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