When Surrey teen Maple Batalia was shot and killed in the parking lot of Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus in the fall of 2011, her family never expected that, four years down the road, they would still have no justice.
The 19-year-old SFU student was gunned down after a late-night study session on Sept. 28, 2011. She was studying to become a dermatologist but was also an aspiring actress and model.
In December 2012, Batalia’s former boyfriend Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwal was charged with first-degree murder. Dhaliwal’s “associate” Gursimar Singh Bedi was charged with manslaughter and being an accessory after the fact.
But four years after her death, Maple’s family is left wondering why those accused in her murder have yet to stand trial.
“We wanted to give them due process,” says Maple’s sister Roseleen Batalia. “Now, four years later, to be fair to the accused as well as to us, we have waited long enough.”
The family has launched an online petition addressed to the federal government, asking for the justice system to be reformed to cater to the needs and rights of victims and their families.
Batalia says the petition was launched just 24 hours ago, and already more than 1,200 people have signed it. She hopes for at least 150,000 signatures to be collected. The family is also working on an open letter to the Department of Justice and hopes to contact local MLAs.
The trial was originally schedule to take place in January of this year, but Batalia says the proceedings have now been moved to January of 2016.
On June 24, Batalia’s family had to fly back from a visit to India for a hearing that only lasted 20 minutes.
And a few months ago, Gurjinder Dhaliwal changed his lawyer, delaying the trial further.
“I have no guarantee that in January of 2016, the trial will go through because [he] can change lawyers again,” says Batalia. “I don’t even have faith in the fact that the trial will happen. I do understand where the law comes from in terms of due process for the accused because they have rights. But, who decides the boundaries for due process? It seems the scale is leaning more toward the criminals versus the victims and their families.”
Global News requested a comment from the Attorney General and Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.
In her statement Anton said she understands “the pre-trial delay must be very difficult and my heart goes out to the Batalia family; no parent should ever have to experience the loss of a child. We are committed to supporting families through the Crime Victim Assistance Program, which provides financial assistance and benefits to help people recover from the impacts of being victimized.”
Anton is unable to provide comment on the case because it is before the courts. However, she did say that “the scheduling of trials can be a complex process and must take into account the availability of court time, defence counsel, assigned crown counsel, and the necessary witnesses. Crown counsel do their utmost to advance cases expeditiously, to minimize the impact on victims and provide the accused with a fair and timely trial.”
The ability to enhance “access to justice and reducing delays in our justice system remain priorities for this government,” Anton said.
WATCH: Maple Batalia’s mother and sister spoke to Global News in 2013, shortly after charges were laid in her murder