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Dave Basi, centre, is surrounded by media as he leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Oct. 18, 2010.Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Shortly after they entered stunning guilty pleas in a political corruption trial, Dave Basi and Bob Virk walked down the steps of the Supreme Court of British Columbia to face a surging media mob.

"I'm going out the way I came in. Through the front doors," said a defiant Mr. Basi, as he braced himself for the wall of microphones and cameras bristling at the bottom of the long row of steps he'd become so familiar with after seven years fighting to prove his innocence.

Now he had given up that claim and both he and Mr. Virk were admitting they were corrupt public officials who had traded confidential government information concerning the $1-billion privatization of BC Rail.

The abrupt end to the trial shuts down a case that was expected to give an unprecedented glimpse into the inner workings of the Liberal government of Premier Gordon Campbell. Both Mr. Virk and Dave Basi were key political operatives for the Liberals, as well as being highly placed ministerial aides. They were in close contact on an almost daily basis with top figures in Mr. Campbell's office and with Liberal Party directors.

The defence strategy was aimed at portraying the accused as government operatives whose actions were part of a larger Liberal strategy to facilitate the sale of BC Rail.

But the truth of that argument will never be tested in court now and the government has rejected calls for a public inquiry.

Dave Basi, Mr. Virk, and a third accused, Aneal Basi, against whom charges were stayed Monday, walked confidently out of court for the last time, flanked by a team of somber defence lawyers.

Charged with fraud, breach of trust and money laundering in 2004, one year after a sensational police raid on their legislature offices, the three men had always said they were wrongly accused.

But in tense negotiations that began two weeks ago and culminated over the weekend, Dave Basi and Mr. Virk both pled guilty to amended charges that dropped two fraud counts. They will both get two years less a day under house arrest for accepting benefits and breach of trust. In addition, Dave Basi, who also faced separate charges in a related case, will have to pay a $75,000 fine for accepting benefits. In effect, he took bribes for leaking confidential government information on BC Rail and was paid for assisting developers in an attempt to get land removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve on Vancouver Island.

Aneal Basi, a low-level public information officer at the time of the police raids, had money-laundering charges dropped. He had allegedly handled payments, intended for Dave Basi, from a Victoria lobbying firm, Pilothouse Public Affairs Group, which was representing a U.S. company vying to buy BC Rail. The provincially owned railway went to CN Rail for $1-billion in 2003.

Asked outside court why he had admitted guilt now, Dave Basi indicated he'd grown weary of the legal struggle.

"It took seven years to get to this stage. This trial was supposed to last for six weeks and now we learn that it may go longer than a year, a year and a half. … I've got young children. My daughter was 8 years old when this started. My son was three. My daughter is now 15 and my son is 10. My family does not deserve to go through this," he said.

"It's over. I'm going to go home now and I'm going to hug my family. I'm gonna hug my mom. I'm gonna hug my wife. I'm going to thank them. I'm going to thank my uncle for standing by me for seven plus years," he said, struggling to keep his composure.

"And this is the first day of the rest of my life," he said, before pushing through the media scrum.

Mr. Virk didn't stop to talk until he was caught up at a pedestrian crossing when the light trapped him with pursuing reporters.

"You know, I'm gonna go home today and play with my kids. It's over. I'm moving on and that's all I have to say. I've gotta move on," he said.

Aneal Basi brushed past reporters, stopping only long enough to say he was relieved.

Michael Bolton, Dave Basi's lawyer, said the deal had been finalized only Monday morning, just minutes before court was due to resume sitting after a week off.

"We're very pleased with the resolution of this matter. It's been the culmination of a tremendous amount of work, counsel work, to reach this point," he said.

"We've taken that opportunity to resolve this matter and allow Mr. Basi to move on with his life and to allow his family to move on," said Mr. Bolton.

Bill Berardino, the Special Prosecutor, said the bargain was struck only after the two central accused figures agreed to plead guilty.

"The Crown's case has been really quite focused and it has been that crimes were committed and that Basi and Virk committed those transgressions," he said.

Another key factor, he said, was an acceptance by the defence of what the Crown thought was an appropriate sentence.

Mr. Berardino rejected the suggestion that he was under any pressure from the Liberal government to wrap up a case that threatened to become politically embarrassing.

"This was my decision. I made it on my own, by myself. Full stop," he said.

Carole James, Leader of the NDP opposition, said she felt "shock and anger" on learning that the case had ended just when it seemed the public was about to get details of how the BC Rail sale was made.

She said the air needs to be cleared and called for a public inquiry.

But Attorney-General Mike de Jong was quick with a rejection, using just one word, "No," when asked if the government would hold an inquiry.

Mr. de Jong said the government had also decided not to pursue "millions" in fees that have been paid out to cover legal costs of the accused.