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Bre-X trial expected to continue to April

The marathon trial of former Bre-X Minerals Ltd. geologist John Felderhof will likely drag on until next spring.

Lawyers for the prosecution and defence agreed Monday to book more court time through to next April, with a month-long break from late December to late January. There will also be one-week breaks, in February and March.

The Ontario Securities Commission has charged Mr. Felderhof with illegal insider trading of Bre-X shares and issuing misleading press releases about the gold content of the firm's Busang property in Indonesia.

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The trial, which began in mid-October, was originally scheduled to end by Christmas, but that timetable quickly degenerated.

Judge Peter Hryn has heard arguments on two defence motions, and the start of opening arguments from OSC prosecutor Jay Naster.

Mr. Naster is expected to take another couple of days to finish his lengthy opening, then Mr. Felderhof's lead counsel Joseph Groia may deliver an outline of the defence position. Witnesses will not likely begin to appear until next week.

The month-long Christmas break has posed a logistical problem for the lawyers: What to do with the hundreds of binders of documents filling bookshelves in the courtroom. They may have to be removed or sealed off so the room can be used for other business.

Mr. Naster is reading Bre-X's internal faxes, memos and letters to the court. The ones read out Monday - including many written by Mr. Felderhof - were from 1994 and 1995, a time when Bre-X stock was beginning to soar. But the memos make it clear that Bre-X's ownership of its Busang exploration site was still in doubt at that time.

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