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Assoun to get payment from Nova Scotia, Ottawa while settlement being negotiated


Glen Assoun, centre, is shown with his lawyer Sean MacDonald, left, and Ron Dalton, co-founder of Innocence Canada earlier this year. - Andrew Rankin
Glen Assoun, centre, is shown with his lawyer Sean MacDonald, left, and Ron Dalton, co-founder of Innocence Canada earlier this year. - Andrew Rankin

Glen Assoun, who was wrongly imprisoned for 17 years, will receive an undisclosed sum of money from the province and Ottawa this week while a settlement is being negotiated, according to Nova Scotia Justice Minister Mark Furey.

Furey disclosed news of the ex gratia (short-term) payment on Thursday but would not offer financial details. The amount was negotiated between both levels of government and Assoun’s counsel.

The payment agreement stipulates that the provincial and federal government have not accepted responsibility or liability in the case but recognizes “Assoun’s present circumstances.”

Federal documents released in July showed Assoun was wrongly convicted in the 1995 murder of his former partner Brenda Way and was the victim of a miscarriage of justice. Since then, Assoun’s lawyer Sean MacDonald had been seeking early compensation for his client and said on Thursday he’s grateful to both Furey and federal Justice Minister David Lametti “for giving Glen’s case the priority we all think it deserves.”

“All I really wanted was for Glen to afford simple things like groceries and live somewhat of a normal life,” said MacDonald who declined to offer financial details of the payment. “This will help him achieve that for the time being.”

The criminal conviction review group’s investigation includes details of RCMP investigators destroying evidence in 2004 that could have exonerated Assoun long before his eventual release from prison in 2014. Out on bail, Assoun endured five years of stifling restrictions on his freedom before his eventual acquittal.

Assoun’s counsel would receive payment as early as Thursday or by the end of the week at the latest, said Furey.

The settlement was finalized on Thursday, he said. But Furey would not say when Assoun could expect a full settlement or how much money he might be entitled to.

“There was a likely miscarriage of justice. We felt the short-term payment was a reasonable first step,” said Furey. “We continue to engage Mr. Assoun’s lawyer in ongoing discussions. I won’t get into what those discussions are.”

While those negotiations are happening it’s too early to formally consider calls for a public inquiry or the province apologizing to Assoun, said Furey.

Wayne MacKay, a Dalhousie University law professor, said while the initial payment is a positive step it does not indicate necessarily that there will be a final payment.

“They’re still discussing with him the larger issue of liability and responsibility on both the provincial and federal government that might lead to an inquiry,” said MacKay.

“But I would say future compensation is very likely, while the inquiry, not so much.”

MacKay said he’s concerned by the slowness of the process and the delay of both governments acknowledging the evidence that Assoun was a victim of a miscarriage of justice.

“Obviously, this is a matter of great concern to Mr. Assoun, and people generally, that our justice system should work properly and when it’s been suggested pretty clearly that it has not it’s unfortunate that it’s taken such a long time to recognize that.”

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