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Manitoba appellate court has power to unseal docs in murder case, Supreme Court says

Frank Ostrowski spent 23 years in prison for first-degree murder before the decision was overturned. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Steve Lambert

The Supreme Court of Canada is keeping alive the CBC’s efforts to unseal evidence pertaining to a now-quashed murder conviction from more than 30 years ago.

The top court ruled Friday morning that the Manitoba Court of Appeal has jurisdiction to reconsider a publication ban on an affidavit in the case of a Manitoba man who spent 23 years in prison for first-degree murder before the decision was overturned.

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In an 8-1 decision, Justice Nicholas Kasirer writes on behalf of the top court that the question of access to records remains open for the appeal court to weigh, even though the merits of the murder case have been decided.

Click to play video: 'First Degree Murder conviction quashed'
First Degree Murder conviction quashed

In 2018, the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled that Frank Ostrowski was denied important information that could have helped his defence when he was convicted in 1987.

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Ostrowski had been found guilty of ordering the fatal shooting of a drug dealer based largely on the testimony of a key witness who had separate charges of cocaine possession stayed in exchange.

Ostrowski’s lawyers and the jury were never told about the deal and the witness told the trial he did not receive any favours in exchange for his testimony.

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