Nova Scotia's justice minister says he hasn't asked the RCMP how they came to destroy evidence that could have freed a man wrongfully convicted of murder.
Glen Assoun was convicted of murdering his common-law wife, Brenda Way, in Dartmouth in the 1990s. He spent 17 years in jail and more years living with an ankle monitor before his conviction was finally quashed in 2019.
The NDP this week called on the government to hold a public inquiry into the miscarriage of justice.
Justice Minister Mark Furey said Thursday that he hasn't asked the RCMP about the destroyed evidence.
"I haven't ordered an investigation. My focus and priority with regards to the Assoun matter has been negotiations with our federal colleagues and Mr. Assoun's counsel as we advance a settlement," he said.
Furey, who was an RCMP officer for 32 years, said he has no plans to ask his former colleagues about the destroyed evidence.
As revealed in a CBC/Halifax Examiner investigation, an RCMP officer found evidence pointing toward Assoun's innocence in 2004.
That officer told his boss — a man who had testified against Assoun in his murder trial. His boss didn't pursue the matter.
The officer went on vacation and returned to find all of the evidence had been destroyed.
The RCMP said the destruction of the potentially exonerating evidence was against policy, but not a coverup.
'Do the right thing'
NDP Leader Gary Burrill said the CBC's Dead Wrong series showed questions need to be answered about how Assoun lost decades of his life in prison because police pursued the wrong person.
"The renewed public interest in Glen Assoun as a result of the recent media series on the case provides the government with yet another opportunity to do the right thing — to apologize to Mr. Assoun, to call an inquiry into the failures that led to his wrongful conviction, and to provide Mr. Assoun with full compensation," Burrill said in a press release.
"The Liberal government has a responsibility to Mr. Assoun and to the people of Nova Scotian to act now to make this right."
Claudia Chender, the NDP's justice critic, said Furey owes it to the public to explain how Assoun was wrongfully convicted and why the RCMP evidence was destroyed.
"We need a public inquiry to bring closure for Mr. Assoun and his family and to restore public trust in the justice system," she said.
No police agency or prosecutor has ever acknowledged Assoun's innocence or apologized for wrongly imprisoning him. Halifax police have still not solved Brenda Way's murder.
MORE TOP STORIES