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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Department of Book Reports 51: a Perfectly Executed crime?

Perfectly Executed, by Peter Van Sant* and Jenna Jackson (Pocket Books $7.99)
I remember this case well, because of the shockingness of the crime, but also because the news broke on my birthday 1994. The evening of July 13, the Rafay family in Bellevue were brutally bludgeoned to death. Their 18 year old son, home visiting from his first year in college, Atif, had found the bodies after returning from a movie with his best friend Sebastian Burns. Although questioned early on, the two young men returned to Vancouver BC on Friday, with the consent of the Canadian Consulate and the Bellevue police department, without knowing* that the families funeral would be held on that day.

The police would sift through many clues, but soon became convinced these two young men were responsible for the crime. The father, a structural engineer, had caused some friction in Vancouver, by suggesting that Muslim temples in Vancouver were not sited exactly true East. One person had come to the police precinct to report that the motive may have been religious. He explained to the officers that as Sunni Muslims, the Rafays could have been targeted by resentful Shiites. There were also reports of a hit being put out in Vancouver by Jamaat ul-Fuqra, for a family that had recently moved to Bellevue. These tips were completely dismissed by a police department that could not comprehend the implications.

Lacking any physical evidence to tie Atif and Sebastian to the murders, BPD sought to convince the West Vancouver police to begin seeking confessions based on the assumption the crimes had been premeditated on Canadian ground. Soon the WVPD & RCMP began an elaborate scenario involving supposed underworld crime bosses, who needed to know what had happened down there to trust Rafay and Burns. Hiring them to engage in an escalating series of crimes, and encouraging them to tell all, they secretly taped Rafay and Burns confessing and laughing about how much "extra bat work, effort" the austic daughter required as she tried to flee. The tapes are chilling, the cold calculated way the two confess to the crime lords with arrogance and pride.

This case ground on for years, with squabbles over the extradition, and the possibility of the death penalty. Finally brought back to America on March 29 2001, with the death penalty off the table, the trial begins with a flamboyant red head lawyer who fiercely believes the innocence of her clients. But soon the case is to take a bizarre turn. Theresa Olsen, after returning from Japan, August 10 2002 tracking a sympathetic witness, is seen by guards having sex with Sebastian in the visitation room. A new defense team must be formed for the trial to proceed.

Finally the jury began deliberation May 20 2004. Four days later they returned with unanimous guilty verdicts for both defendents.

I really have no problem with the 3 guilty verdicts. I think the lying little shits probably did do it. The problem with this case is that the techniques employed by the RCMP would not be at all legal in America, but since they were conducted by RMCP, are admissable as "Silver Platter" evidence in US courts. There is no feeling of Justice in a case as tenuous as this one.

democommie™™™™®©: what ever you do, don't plan on hiding out in Canada. just sayin'.

Perfectly Executed is available at Jackson Street Books and fine Independent Bookstores everywhere!

UPDATE: Linkies* now fixed. D'oh.

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