Tuesday 22 January 2013

Correction to Canadian Press story on Cynthia Vanier

In a recent, widely distributed article written by Diana Mehta of the Canadian Press and titled, Case of Canadian woman accused in Gadhafi smuggling plot nears turning point, says her family, there was a major inaccuracy. This was not the journalist’s fault – she had been given the wrong information.

Specifically, the article made the following two statements:

Cynthia Vanier, who’s been sitting in a Mexico prison for more than a year, is currently waiting to make her closing statement before a judge, who will then decide whether to send the case to trial or drop the charges against her.

And -

The ongoing legal proceedings, which Ms. MacDonald likens to Canadian pretrial hearings, were meant to wrap up last week, but were delayed until an undetermined date in the next few weeks.

It is important to clarify that Ms. Vanier’s trial is ongoing – this is not a pre-trial hearing. Consequently, the stakes are very high. On January 31, assuming a translator is present, Ms. Vanier will give her closing statement before the judge.

Though we are nearing the end, the judge always reserves the right to recall witnesses. We also must hear the lawyers’ final arguments. The judge, who must review all proofs from both sides, will then retire before his ruling, which could take weeks or even months.

The stakes are high. If found guilty of conspiring to human smuggle Ms. Vanier could receive from 8 to 16 years in prison. There is an appeals process, but it is slow and arduous.

The Canadian Press has notified La politica that it has "refiled a replacement version that removes references to current proceedings in Mexico as [being] like 'Canadian pre-trial hearings' or a period before a trial."

CP further stated that  "We will look further into the best way to describe Mexico's different legal process."

The problem persists, and has become something of a "meme". In the January 25 National Post story, Unsealed RCMP affidavit could affect case of Canadiancharged with helping Gaddafi-son escape Libya, the article states that Vanier "was preparing to make a final statement to the Mexican judge who will decide whether she should go to trial". The paper and journalist, Stewart Bell, have been notified. No correction.

It should be noted that this misinformation has created some confusion, with requests coming in to La politica to print a correction.

(TE Wilson is the author of Mezcalero, a Detective Sánchez novel.)

Twitter: @TimothyEWilson
Email: lapoliticaeslapolitica [at] gmail [dot] com

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  1. Thank you for the clarification,very appreciated.

  2. I can see several inaccuracies in this article. I hope the Canadian Press and Ms Mehta will make the effort to get the correct information and print a retraction or a more expansive article to correct these errors. They are accountable to millions of people to be accurate in their reporting I would think.

  3. Thanks "Toedancer" and "callens crusades". The most recent National Post article on the RCMP affidavit repeated the false statement that a Mexican judge is about to "decide whether she should go to trial". The NP has been notified of the mistake, but have taken no action, which is confusing. Not a big deal, and easy to fix online. It's now a "meme" that's confusing a lot of people!