Two videos that Toronto police say they have seized, and which are relevant to an investigation involving Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, contain footage of the same incident, a prosecutor told an Ontario Superior Court judge on Tuesday.
At a hearing before Justice Ian Nordheimer, where an accused drug dealer is arguing he should be allowed to see the videos because he has been so closely linked to their creation, assistant Crown attorney Grace Hession David described one video as a “subset” of the other, and said that the longer version is about 90 seconds.
Since Oct. 31, when Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that forensic experts had recovered two videos from a hard drive that were germaine to the investigation, and that one of them was “consistent” with media reports about the mayor being captured on video smoking crack cocaine, there has been a torrent of speculation – both on the Internet and at office water coolers – about what the second video might show. Ms. Hession David’s comments on Tuesday offered the first public indication of its nature.
Tuesday’s hearing was the result of an unorthodox legal application by Mohammad Khattak, who was 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. He is better known as one of the three alleged gang members who posed for a photo with Mr. Ford that other men circulated when they tried to sell the original video to the media.
Mr. Khattak, 19, was not involved in making or attempting to sell the video, but his lawyers, Nathan Gorham and Daniel Brown, say his name has become linked to it because the photo was widely published with media stories about the video.
The lawyers say a criminal code provision that allows people to access seized belongings should mean their client can see and hear the video to identify who was involved in creating it and possibly sue them for linking him to something in which he had no part. His lawyers acknowledge that he has not yet hired a defamation lawyer, but they say that seeing the video would help “arm” Mr. Khattak for discussions with civil litigators. Ms. Hession David has opposed the application, arguing that the criminal code provision does not apply to Mr. Khattak’s situation. “All of this is too much speculation,” she said about Mr. Khattak’s reasons for wanting to view the video.
After briefly viewing the video in private – on a password-protected and encrypted Toronto police laptop and in the presence of Detective Gavin Horner – Justice Nordheimer said that it contains voices Mr. Khattak might recognize. He will release his decision at a later date.