Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Convicted Child Killer's Case Prompts Push to Preserve Evidence

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Convicted Child Killer's Case Prompts Push to Preserve Evidence

Article excerpt

Keep evidence: convicted child killer's lawyer

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TORONTO - Lawyers for a convicted child killer are asking the Ontario Appeal Court to require that all evidence in cases carrying a life sentence be preserved for the rest of the offender's life.

The Innocence Project at the Osgoode Hall law school in Toronto filed the charter challenge on behalf of Amina Chaudhary, who was found guilty in 1984 of killing her lover's eight-year-old nephew.

Chaudhary, who is currently out on day parole, continues to claim innocence despite losing an appeal and an application to the Supreme Court of Canada.

She has asked the federal government for a ministerial review of her case.

Her lawyers say key evidence that could help clear her name has disappeared due to what they call "arbitrary and inconsistent" preservation rules.

While the case originally centred on the missing autopsy photographs, lawyer Alan Young argued Wednesday the rest of Chaudhary's file -- including samples of hair and soil -- may also be at risk.

Any further loss could undermine her chances in the review, and without a direct order from the court, authorities have no incentive to safeguard items that could eventually prove crucial, he said.

"She wants to have her conviction reinvestigated. She doesn't need some ruling about whether her rights were violated in the past," he told the three-member panel.

"There has to be some assurance that what happened to the photographs won't happen again," he added.

But any talk of future losses seemed to rankle the judges, who suggested they couldn't issue a ruling based on a possible charter violation that hadn't yet taken place.

They stressed that an earlier decision had found no violation in connection with the photos' disappearance, and any other loss might be viewed in the same way.

"We don't decide charter cases in a vacuum," Justice John Laskin said in the hearing. "We've got to have some factual underpinning to decide this."

Lawyer Robert Charney, who represents the Ministry of the Attorney General, accused Young of trying to argue a "brand new case" by raising issues that had never surfaced in the matter before. …

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