The Toronto Sun Copyright (c) 1995, The Toronto Sun Publishing Corp. Sunday, September 17, 1995 TAG: 9509150122 EDITION: Final SECTION: Comment PAGE: C4 LENGTH: 78 lines HEADLINE: NO PLEA BARGAIN FOR POOR RUDY BYLINE: BY HEATHER BIRD TEXT: It is inevitable, and perhaps not even such a bad thing, that a new standard of fairness has been set in matters of justice. It's a low water mark, of sorts. A tainted criterion by which to measure tarnished goods. Justice on the scale Homolka. This dirty deal can now be used by anyone, either on the inside or out, to measure the magnitude of their shafting by the system. And, in many cases, they will be right. If you're Karla Homolka, today you may be enjoying a weekend visit in one of the prison houses with your family. Or watching cable TV in your room with the Mickey Mouse decor. Or enjoying a weekend workout in the gym. Business as usual. If you're Rudy Pacificador, it will also be business as usual. This Sunday no different than any of the previous 200. You will be in your cell at the Don Jail. You will have no exercise. No TV. You will not be allowed even a pen. If you're lucky enough to have a visit, you will talk to your wife on a phone and see your daughter through glass. Business as usual. Except there is nothing usual - or businesslike - about your case. If you're Rudy Pacificador, that means you've spent almost four years in Riverdale's crumbling citadel, a short-term hellhole at best. There's not enough exercise. Not enough sunlight. No library. No possessions. No privacy. No personal contact. There is, however, no shortage of noise, a raucous din which rises and falls over 24 hours but never completely goes away, leaving a man at no time alone with his thoughts. Pacificador's predicament is political and complicated and almost impossible to sum up quickly or neatly. The 39-year-old university graduate stands accused of murder in connection with one of the most notorious political assassinations in the history of the Philippines. Evelio Javier, a former provincial governor who supported Corazon Aquino, died in a hail of bullets in February, 1986. Pacificador was not charged until 1987, long after he fled the country and claimed refugee status here on the grounds of political persecution. At the time, no extradition treaty existed. In April, 1991, an immigration adjudicator found Pacificador had a credible basis for a claim and ample evidence existed to prove persecution, despite the murder charges. Since then, however, an extradition treaty has been inked between the two countries, followed by a formal request by Manila for Pacificador's return. NO EYEWITNESS REPORTS While Philippine officials insist the case against Pacificador is very strong, there are serious reasons for scepticism. Two key witnesses have been offered immunity although their evidence conflicts with other aspects of the case. There are no eyewitness reports to place Pacificador at the scene. His co-accused have languished in prison since 1986 and have yet to come to trial. Pacificador's lawyer himself has been held for the past five years without bail. Then again, bail is a luxury which has been denied here at home. Once Manila made the formal extradition request, Pacificador was arrested at a bus stop while on his way to work. He was denied bail and without a material change in the circumstances of the case, there is no mechanism for review. Pacificador won't be expelled unless Justice Minister Allan Rock supports the extradition. Lawyer Wes Wilson sent him all the documentation last week. A spokesman for Rock says it may take several weeks before a decision is reached. But Wilson, while hoping for the best, is also preparing for the worst. "I think the merits of the case are good but Rock's record (on these matters) is not," he says. Rock's personal record aside, the system's record in this case has been egregious. The father of a Canadian citizen has been held in jail without charge for almost four years. He has been detained under harsh conditions and denied even the most minute of privileges, privileges afforded to the worst of our worst. He has had no avenue to appeal these circumstances. It is a sentence without end. Say Allan Rock does make a decision in the next couple of weeks. By then, if you're Rudy Pacificador, you will have spent 48 months - four years - in jail without charge. By contrast, if you're Killer Karla Homolka and you've served your 48 months, you will be eligible for parole.
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