Winnipeg man suing police, prosecutors over quashed murder conviction

By | June 16, 2020

WINNIPEG — A Winnipeg man is suing police, federal prosecutors, and others after his decades-old conviction for first-degree murder was quashed more than a year-and-a-half ago.

Lawyers for Frank Ostrowksi, 70, filed a statement of claim in Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench Monday seeking more than $16 million in damages.

Ostrowski was convicted of first-degree murder in May 1987 in the shooting death of Robert Nieman. Ostrowski spent 23 years in prison.

His conviction was quashed in November 2018 after the Manitoba Court of Appeal ruled his lawyers were denied important information during his trial.

The Attorney General of Canada, federal prosecutors, the City of Winnipeg, Winnipeg police officers, a former and current chief of police, and a defence lawyer are among those named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims the defendants failed to make full disclosure of two important pieces of evidence which lawyers say violated Ostrowski’s Charter right to make full answer and defence and caused a miscarriage of justice. The lawsuit claims Ostrowksi’s right to a fair trial and fundamental justice was violated.

“The Jacobson report and the Lovelace deal were these two important pieces of evidence,” reads a portion of the statement of claim. “As a result of the non-disclosure of these two important pieces of evidence, Ostrowski’s first-degree murder conviction was quashed and a judicial stay was ordered.”

The lawsuit states the Lovelace deal involved a witness getting his drug charges dropped in exchange for his cooperation in the Ostrowski trial. It states the Jacobson report was relevant evidence that could have provided the defence new avenues for cross-examination of the witness and police officers to challenge the contents of their testimony and their credibility.

None of the allegations against the defendants named in the lawsuit have been tested in court.

The Manitoba defendants have 20 days to file a statement of defence, while those living outside of the province within Canada are given 40 days to file a statement of defence.

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