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N.S. Mountie faces questions over redacted warrants in mass killing case

RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather fields questions at a news conference at RCMP headquarters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on April 20, 2020. A senior RCMP officer who obtained search warrants for the investigation into the mass shooting in April was grilled in court Wednesday about why those documents remain heavily redacted. Even though search warrants are supposed to be released to the public after they have been executed, the Crown has released redacted versions that are now the subject of a court challenge by several media outlets, including The Canadian Press. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Riley Smith

HALIFAX — A senior RCMP officer in Nova Scotia who obtained search warrants for the investigation into the mass shooting in April was grilled in court today about why most of those documents remain heavily redacted.

Search warrants are supposed to be made public after they have been executed, with some exceptions, but in this case the Crown has produced heavily redacted versions that are now the subject of a court challenge by media outlets, including The Canadian Press.

RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk was cross-examined by media lawyer David Coles, who repeatedly asked the officer to justify why large sections of the warrants remain blacked out and beyond public scrutiny.

Hawryluk said the release of key information could jeopardize the RCMP’s ongoing investigation of Gabriel Wortman’s murderous rampage on April 18-19, which claimed the lives of 22 victims over a 13-hour span.

As well, Crown lawyers argued that certain names in the documents had to remain confidential because these people and at least one business have been deemed “innocent third parties” whose identities must be protected.

Provincial court Judge Laurel Halfpenny-MacQuarrie signed an order Wednesday to release some previously redacted content, though none of that information shed any new light on the case.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 12, 2020.

The Canadian Press