Paru le jeudi 28 février 2008 sur PC via Google
Robert Latimer aura droit à une libération conditionnelle de jour
Il y a 15 heures
VANCOUVER - Robert Latimer, qui purge une peine de prison à vie pour le meurtre de sa fille lourdement handicapée, pourra profiter d'une libération conditionnelle de jour.
La division d'appel de la Commission nationale des libérations conditionnelles (CNLC) a renversé, mercredi, une décision de la CNLC rendue en décembre dernier, qui refusait une telle libération au fermier de la Saskatchewan.
Dans un jugement écrit, la division d'appel stipule que la décision de la commission de refuser une libération conditionnelle à Latimer ne pouvait s'appuyer sur la loi, et que retarder sa libération serait injuste.
L'avocat de Latimer, Jason Gratl, a déclaré que son client était ravi de cette décision. M. Gratl a ajouté que Latimer devra faire des ajustements considérables en quittant la vie carcérale.
"Il devra faire face au feu nourri des médias, réapprendre à vivre en société et tisser de nouveaux liens avec sa famille", a dit l'avocat de Latimer, spécifiant qu'un tel renversement de décision ne survenait que très rarement.
La division d'appel a ordonné sa libération immédiate, conditionnelle à la disponibilité dans une maison de transition d'Ottawa, où une de ses soeurs habite. Latimer y aurait également quelques possibilités d'emploi.
Toutefois, le directeur-adjoint de la prison William Head, où est emprisonné Latimer, a déclaré que le détenu pourrait ne pas quitter cet établissement avant quelques semaines encore.
Parmi ses conditions de libération, Latimer ne doit pas avoir la responsabilité ou prendre des décisions pour une personne handicapée.
"Cette condition spéciale est perçue comme étant raisonnable et nécessaire, vues les circonstances entourant le geste que vous avez commis contre votre fille", peut-on lire dans cette décision.
Cette nouvelle a été accueillie avec joie sur la ferme des Latimer, en Saskatchewan. Sa femme, Laura, a refusé d'accorder une entrevue aux médias, mais elle a tout de même déclaré à La Presse Canadienne être très heureuse de cette décision.
"Je suis très excitée, a-t-elle dit. Ca représente beaucoup pour notre famille."
Latimer purge une peine de prison à vie pour le meurtre au deuxième degré de sa fille Tracy, atteinte de paralysie cérébrale depuis la naissance. A l'âge de 12 ans, la jeune fille affichait l'âge mental d'un enfant de trois mois.
Latimer avait initialement nié avoir tué sa fille, avant d'admettre qu'il l'avait placée dans la cabine de son camion et relié celle-ci au tuyau d'échappement, asphyxiant la jeune fille. Il a toujours déclaré avoir posé ce geste par compassion pour sa fille, qui souffrait constamment, puisque les autorités médicales ne lui offraient aucune chance de croire qu'elle pourrait un jour vivre sans douleur.
Latimer pourra demander une libération conditionnelle totale dans trois ans.
Paru jeudi 28 février 2008 dans The Globe and mail
CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Freed Latimer to take campaign to Ottawa
Board overturns earlier decison, orders Saskatchewan farmer to be released on parole to halfway house
February 28, 2008
VICTORIA -- Robert Latimer is expected to arrive in Ottawa, likely in the next few days, to challenge the legislators whose policies helped keep him in prison for seven years.
In an unusual move, the appeals division of the National Parole Board yesterday overturned the board's Dec. 5 decision to deny Mr. Latimer parole and urged his immediate release.
Mr. Latimer is serving a life sentence for the second-degree murder of his pain-racked daughter, Tracy, who was born with severe cerebral palsy and was facing escalating medical challenges.
In a strongly worded ruling, the appeal division called the initial decision to deny Mr. Latimer parole "unreasonable and unsupported."
In an 11-page written decision, the appeal board members wrote: "The board's decision to deny day parole cannot be reasonably supported in law and ... a delay in releasing you from imprisonment would be unfair."
The parole board's role is to determine whether Mr. Latimer poses a significant risk to reoffend, but a large portion of the 80-minute hearing last December was spent trying to get the Saskatchewan grain farmer to discuss his feelings about the killing.
In its original decision, the three-member panel of the parole board had concluded: "You could not or would not describe the feelings or thoughts underlying your actions at the time of the offence."
While an expression of remorse is not technically required in order to obtain parole, the board expressed concern that he showed a "lack of insight" into his actions.
"You appear satisfied with the position that you and only you were able to determine her life or death, describing such decisions as beyond the law," the parole board ruled last December.
"I still don't feel guilty," Mr. Latimer told the parole board in December. "It was the right thing to do. ... The laws were not as important as Tracy was."
Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl, who launched the appeal on Mr. Latimer's behalf, had hoped to get a second hearing for Mr. Latimer.
He argued that the board erred in law, and disputed their finding that Mr. Latimer's apparent "lack of insight" meant he posed a risk to the public.
The appeal board agreed and, in a rare move, tossed out the original decision entirely.
"The board supports the conclusion that you are a low risk to reoffend. ... Accordingly, your appeal is allowed, the board's decision of Dec. 5, 2007, is reversed and you are to be immediately released on day parole."
Mr. Gratl, who is also president of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, welcomed the victory yesterday. "I believe most Canadians will agree with the compassion and wisdom shown by the appeal division."
Mr. Latimer's sister, Pat Latimer, said she was surprised by the parole decision.
"He should never have been in jail, but this is better than anything we've heard so far," she told The Canadian Press in a telephone interview from her New Brunswick home. "You always hope for these things, but we've never had any decision in his favour before. So you hope for it but you just don't expect it."
Ivan Bjornholt, a friend of Mr. Latimer, said his supporters are jubilant. "I think it's great news. ... I'm surprised it happened this quickly."
But critics were swift to denounce the ruling.
"We're very disappointed," said Marie White, chairwoman of the Council of Canadians with Disabilities. "It sends a dangerous message that it's okay, it's different if you murder someone who has a disability."
On Oct. 24, 1993, Mr. Latimer wrapped his 12-year-old daughter in a blanket, put her in the cab of his pickup truck and filled it with exhaust fumes. His actions ignited a national debate about mercy killing and the rights of the disabled.
Mr. Latimer has never expressed remorse for his actions.
He maintained throughout his trial and incarceration that he was motivated by love: Tracy, whose tiny body was contorted by cerebral palsy, had suffered from a lack of
oxygen at birth. It left her a quadriplegic with brain damage. She endured multiple operations and acute pain, and the future held out more of the same.
Mr. Latimer told the parole board in December he wanted to be transferred to Ottawa so that he could continue to fight his sentence.
During his time in prison he has continued to lobby the courts and politicians about his case.
A jury found him guilty in 1997 on a charge of second-degree murder but recommended he serve only a year in jail and another under house arrest at his farm near Wilkie, Sask.
The trial judge, Mr. Justice Ted Noble, found that Mr. Latimer's motive was to relieve what he saw as his daughter's terrible and unremitting pain and described the killing as a "compassionate" homicide. But the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada altered the penalty to fit Canada's mandatory minimum sentence.
The appeal division has applied two conditions to his parole: Mr. Latimer cannot have responsibility for, or make decisions for any individuals who are severely disabled.
As well, he must participate in psychological counselling "to assist you in your reintegration into the community."
While the appeal board said he is immediately eligible for day parole, Mr. Latimer was to remain at William Head Institution near Victoria last night while corrections officials make arrangements for him to be transferred to an approved halfway house.
That can take weeks, but a spokesman for the parole board said last night that efforts are being made to expedite his release.
He has been accepted at two approved facilities in Ottawa, but he will not be moved by Corrections Canada until a bed is made available.
Born: March 13, 1953, in the area of Wilkie, Sask., northwest of Saskatoon.
Family: Married Laura, a former teacher from British Columbia, in 1978. Four children: Tracy, Lee, Brian and Lindsay.
Bought the 485-hectare family farm, about a half-hour drive from the town of Wilkie, from his father in 1976.
TO PRISON AND BACK
Crime: He admitted killing his 12-year-old daughter Tracy in 1993, by placing her in his pickup truck and piping in the exhaust fumes while the family was at church. He said he did it because he could see no way of relieving the pain she suffered from severe cerebral palsy. Later, he told police how he watched his daughter's life ebb away.
Sentence: Life without chance of parole for 10 years for second-degree murder.
Behind bars: He went to prison in 2001 after losing his final appeal to the Supreme Court. He was denied day parole this past December, but that decision was overturned yesterday by the National Parole Board's appeal division. Eligible for full parole on Dec. 8, 2010.
IN HIS OWN WORDS
"The law is a very stupid thing when it comes to trying to sort these things out. They don't have any realistic appreciation of what is going on."- In 2006
The Canadian Press
Key dates in the case
Oct. 24, 1993 Robert Latimer kills his disabled daughter Tracy, 12.
Nov. 16, 1994 A jury convicts Mr. Latimer of second-degree murder.
July 18, 1995 Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decides 2-1 to uphold Latimer conviction.
Oct. 25, 1995 Revelation that RCMP, on Crown orders, interfered with potential jurors by questioning them about religion, abortion and mercy killing.
Feb. 6, 1997 Supreme Court orders new trial because of jury interference.
Nov. 5, 1997 Jury finds Mr. Latimer guilty of second-degree murder, but recommends he be eligible for parole after one year.
Dec. 1, 1997 Mr. Justice Ted Noble gives Mr. Latimer constitutional exemption from mandatory sentence and imposes sentence of two years.
Nov. 23, 1998 Saskatchewan Court of Appeal sets aside constitutional exemption and upholds mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Jan. 18, 2001 Supreme Court upholds the sentence and Mr. Latimer turns himself in.
May 2001 Mr. Latimer is classified as a medium-security inmate and sent to the Bowden Institution near Red Deer, Alta.
May 14, 2002 Supreme Court refuses to rehear the case.
Nov. 15, 2003 Mr. Latimer is moved to minimum security at the William Head Institution near Victoria.
Dec. 5, 2007 The National Parole Board denies Mr. Latimer's application for day parole.
Feb. 27, 2008 Mr. Latimer is ordered released on day parole after parole board's appeal division overturns December ruling.
The Canadian Press