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Robert Baltovich outside the University Courhouse at 361 University Ave. in Toronto after he was acquitted of the murder of his girlfriend, Elizabeth Bain (File photo). Photo by Tibor Kolley

Tibor Kolley/Tibor Kolley/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

An Ontario man who spent eight years in prison convicted of murdering his girlfriend before being acquitted is suing Ontario's attorney general and police.

In seeking $13-million in general and punitive damages, Robert Baltovich claims his arrest, prosecution and conviction in the death of University of Toronto student Elizabeth Bain were essentially malicious.

"(They) were the result of the reckless, bad faith, negligent and intentional acts and omissions of the defendants," the suit alleges.

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"Baltovich has suffered loss of liberty, humiliation and disgrace; he has also suffered a loss of income; he is entitled to substantial damages."

The claims, also on behalf of Mr. Baltovich's father James, have not been proven in court and those named have not had any chance to defend themselves.

Ms. Bain, 22, vanished in June 1990, and although her body was never found, Mr. Baltovich was convicted of killing her in 1992 based on circumstantial evidence.

He was sentenced to life without parole for 17 years.

The prosecution argued he was jealous because he believed Ms. Bain was about to break off the relationship.

Mr. Baltovich was released on bail eight years after his 1992 conviction pending an appeal.

The Ontario Court of Appeal, which heard his lawyers suggest among other things that Ms. Bain's murderer was really notorious sex-killer Paul Bernardo, ordered a new trial in 2004.

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The Appeal Court was harsh in criticizing the judge in the trial, Justice John O'Driscoll, calling his charge to the jury "unfair and unbalanced."

"It also contained significant errors of law that were prejudicial to the appellant," the tribunal wrote.

On the first day of the retrial in 2008, the prosecution announced it would call no evidence, and Mr. Baltovich was acquitted by the jury.

In January, Attorney-General Chris Bentley announced the province would not compensate Mr. Baltovich, calling it inappropriate.

Mr. Baltovich had been found not guilty "as a result of the steps that the justice system has taken," Mr. Bentley said.

In an interview Friday, Mr. Baltovich's lawyer, Harvey Strosberg, of Windsor, Ont., said the case cried out for compensation because "justice was not dispensed" and Mr. Baltovich was wrongfully convicted.

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"The system failed this man; our society failed this man," Mr. Strosberg said.

"The government and the defendants can come to (compensation) voluntarily or we'll let a judge decide."

Also named in the lawsuit are the two lead Toronto police officers who investigated the original case, Brian Raybould and Steven Reesor, and the original defence lawyers, William Gatward, who is now in the U.K., and Michael Engel.

Mr. Baltovich, 44, maintains the officers as well as the two prosecutors in the case had "substantial evidence" that he was not guilty but failed to disclose the material to the defence at his first trial.

The statement of claim alleges the two officers were guilty of tunnel vision.

They "rushed to judgment" by presuming Mr. Baltovich had murdered Ms. Bain.

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"There is reason to believe that Bernardo was Elizabeth's killer," the suit claims.

Mr. Bernardo subsequently denied any involvement in Ms. Bain's killing.

Prosecutors then failed to provide evidence that "supported his innocence," the claim alleges.

Despite Mr. Baltovich's insistence he was innocent, his two defence lawyers failed to review all evidence that could substantiate his position, the suit says.

Mr. Baltovich did not immediately return a call Friday seeking comment.

None of those named in the suit, which was filed in Ontario Superior Court in Windsor, were immediately available to comment either.

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A spokesman for the Toronto Police Service said Friday they had not yet been served with the statement of claim.

In 2008, Mr. Strosberg settled the wrongful-conviction claim of James Driskell for more than $4-million. Mr. Driskell was wrongfully convicted of murder in Manitoba and spent 13 years in prison.

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