A copy of the infamous video that allegedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine will be in an Ontario Superior courtroom next week, but it remains to be seen whether anyone, even the judge presiding over the hearing, will be permitted to view it.
Justice Ian Nordheimer ordered Crown prosecutors to have the video ready for a possible private viewing Tuesday in the event that he rules in favour of Muhammad Khattak, an accused drug dealer who asked for access to the video on Friday as part of what his lawyers call a “novel” legal application.
Mr. Khattak was arrested in June as part of a police investigation called Project Traveller that targeted an alleged drug-dealing network in the city’s west end. But he is better known as one of the three alleged gang members who posed for a photo with Mr. Ford outside an alleged crackhouse – a photo circulated by two other men in an effort to prove their credibility when they tried to sell the video to the media. Last week, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair revealed that investigators had recovered a copy of the video from a hard drive seized during the June raids.
Although Mr. Khattak was not one of the men who made or tried to sell the video, his name has become linked to it because of his photo with the mayor, which was widely published in association with media stories about the video, Nathan Gorham, one of Mr. Khattak’s three lawyers, told court Friday.
Mr. Gorham urged Justice Nordheimer to allow Mr. Khattak and his lawyers to view the video so he can prove he doesn’t appear in it. In addition, Mr. Khattak would like to be able to identify the people who are seen or heard in the video, Mr. Gorham said. The lawyer, who is relying on a provision of the criminal code that allows anyone with an “interest” to access seized materials, said Mr. Khattak would be satisfied if the judge viewed the video and offered a written summary of its contents.
Grace Hession David, an assistant Crown attorney, said she has seen the video and Mr. Khattak does not appear in it, nor can his voice be heard. The video will not likely be supplied to Mr. Khattak as part of the criminal case against him, she said, because she deemed it irrelevant to the charges, which are marijuana trafficking and participating in a criminal organization.
Justice Nordheimer asked that the video be readied for a possible viewing on Tuesday, but said he hadn’t made his mind up yet about whether Mr. Khattak, or even he, was entitled to view it. “I still have not decided whether I’m going to see it,” he said.
Outside court, Mr. Gorham said Mr. Khattak is looking forward to clearing his name. “His family is a good, hard-working, law-abiding family – a good, middle-class family that works hard to maintain their reputation and it’s been humiliating for five months for them to be dragged into the scandal with Mayor Ford. They never asked for that.”