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Poland's top civil-rights watchdog says B.C. prosecutors should reconsider their decision not to charge four Mounties involved in a fatal confrontation with Robert Dziekanski due to "new facts" that have arisen from the provincial Braidwood inquiry into his death.

"New facts call for a reassessment of the previous decision," a spokesman for Warsaw-based Janusz Kochanowski told The Globe and Mail in one of a series of e-mails, outlining the ombudsman's view of the case.

"In the opinion of the ombudsman, criminal charges should be laid in this case," Miroslaw Wroblewski, director of the international law department in Mr. Kochanowski's office, wrote last week.

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In December, 2008, the B.C. Crown announced an initial decision, suggesting the officers were "lawfully engaged" in their duties when they subdued Mr. Dziekanski during an October, 2007, struggle at Vancouver International Airport and that they used "reasonable and necessary" force.

Exhausted after a long flight to Canada, Mr. Dziekanski drew police attention when he began acting erratically. During a confrontation, he was stunned five times with a taser, and subsequently died of cardiac arrest.

The use of the taser has prompted an intense debate on the police use of stun guns that has echoed all the way to Warsaw.

A number of critics pointed to inconsistencies in RCMP testimony at the inquiry before former justice Thomas Braidwood as justification for reassessing of the Crown decision.

Without being specific, Mr. Kochanowski's spokesman said the ombudsman and his office are mindful of these inconsistencies, and so support a timely reassessment.

"In this case, the justice is the most important thing and we have to find all the measures to achieve it," he wrote.

Poland's civil-rights commissioner is an independent officer appointed by the Polish parliament to monitor and uphold the civil rights of Polish citizens.

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His powers, relevant to the Dziekanski case, include monitoring the efforts of Polish authorities in the case, including prosecutors and the foreign affairs ministry, and working with Canadian officials such as B.C. Ombudsman Kim Carter. (Last week, he sent the B.C. ombudsman a letter, asking for an official update on the case though the letter made it clear the office is largely up to date on what has been happening so far.)

Mr. Kochanowski's spokesman said the ombudsman is looking for an "independent and fast" inquiry into the case, and they have taken note of delays at Braidwood caused by the recent discovery of an overlooked e-mail among senior Mounties that raises questions about the testimony of the four officers.

"The ombudsman wants to know that the people responsible for [Mr. Dziekanski's]death will not stay immune from responsibility," his spokesman, wrote in outlining his concerns about the case.

"Of much concern is the more general question what is to be changed in order [to ensure]such incidents never happen again - for the sake of Polish citizens and all coming to Canada."

The ombudsman described the Dziekanski case as the "most serious" among a series of incidents involving the "misuse" of stun guns in Canada.

Prosecutors in Poland have been monitoring developments in the Dziekanski case in Canada, but the ombudsman said, through his official, that a theoretical extradition of officers to Poland to face prosecution "does not seem necessary" and that he would prefer the matter be dealt with in Canada.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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