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Homolka won't face charges in sister's death, Ontario says

Ontario's so-called "deal with the devil" will ensure that Karla Homolka escapes prosecution in the drug-rape death of her sister when she's released from prison this summer, the Ontario government reiterated yesterday.

"I'm not going to go back and second-guess the decision, that's for sure," Ontario Attorney-General Michael Bryant said.

"That was something that was looked at some years ago and it was reviewed as well by a public inquiry. The decision was made . . . at the time to leave things as they were."

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Ms. Homolka secured a 12-year prison sentence for manslaughter in 1993 after entering into a plea bargain with Ontario Crown officials.

While she was never charged in the 1990 Christmas Eve death of 15-year-old Tammy Homolka, her sentence took the incident into account.

Two years later, Ms. Homolka testified against her former husband Paul Bernardo. He was found guilty of all charges against him, including the sex slayings of two Ontario schoolgirls and the death of Tammy Homolka.

Between Ms. Homolka striking her deal and Mr. Bernardo's trial, startling videotapes documenting the couple's crimes were handed over to authorities. The tapes emboldened critics, who accused Ontario of signing a "deal with the devil."

A public inquiry into Ms. Homolka's plea bargain ensued, but the agreement stood.

"This is something an attorney-general of the day made a decision based upon the public inquiry that was before him, and that's that," Mr. Bryant said.

Instead, the Ontario government vows to pursue what it calls its best legal recourse to protect the public from Ms. Homolka.

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In mid-June, an application will be made before a Quebec Provincial Court judge to limit Ms. Homolka's freedoms under the Criminal Code, but there's no guarantee any restrictions will be granted.

Despite that, the lawyer representing the families of slain Ontario schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy agrees the Criminal Code is their last available defence against Ms. Homolka. Revisiting past crimes is not an option.

"At the time of the plea bargain, they agreed that the facts relating to Tammy Homolka would be read into the record and form part of the reasons for the sentence," Tim Danson said.

"I don't doubt for a moment that legally, if there was a way, they would [charge her]"

Tammy's death aside, Mr. Danson believes the government officials passed up their chance to quash the "deal with the devil" long ago.

Before Mr. Bernardo's 1995 trial, Ms. Homolka told authorities about a sexual assault on a woman known only as Jane Doe. That information wasn't offered earlier as part of her plea bargain.

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"I advocated that she had breached her plea bargain because she hadn't disclosed it," Mr. Danson said.

"That's the opportunity that we missed."

Despite Mr. Bryant and Mr. Danson's appraisal of the legal situation, former Ontario justice minister Bob Runciman believes the recommendations of the public inquiry are worth examining.

The Jane Doe case and the possibility that Ms. Homolka committed perjury were left open for the Conservative government of the day to consider, said Mr. Runciman, now Conservative House leader.

"Those are areas that could still be, I believe, considered by the current Attorney- General."

Mr. Bryant says he recently scrutinized the inquiry's report and believes restrictions under the Criminal Code represent the best chance his government has to rein in Ms. Homolka.

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