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Somali questions disallowed


Patrick Ryan's defence lawyer was shot down yesterday in a bid to quiz an elite Canadian soldier about his role in the death of a Somali civilian seven years ago.

Justice Peter Martin ruled the line of questioning by Balfour Der had no relevance to Ryan's guilt or innocence.

Der wanted to ask Sgt. Brent Countway about a March 4, 1993 shooting in a bid to show the witness was "bold" enough to take part in a daring Brink's heist in Calgary.

Der suggested Countway - a close friend of admitted robber Darnell Bass - may be the gunman who emptied an AK-47 rifle above the head of guard Paul Bisson.

"The defence theory is that if Mr. Ryan was not the second person that was in the bank - this person seems to fit the description," Der said of Countway.

Countway was one of two members of the now disbanded Canadian airborne regiment who fatally wounded a fleeing and unarmed Ahmed Aruush in Somalia.

Ryan faces five charges in connection with the March 19, 1998 commando-style heist of two Brink's guards and an ATM theft two months earlier.

Der suggested evidence of Countway's conduct in Somalia "would establish that he is the type of person who would pick up a gun and start shooting at people.

"Not just shoot at people, but someone ... who in a very bold way would do something which seems to fit in with what happened in this bank," he said.

"This particular man shot a Somali civilian, apparently in the back, or the back of the head as (he) ran away."

But Martin said short of conducting a separate trial into Countway's conduct, there would be no way of knowing the circumstances of the shooting.

Countway, who unknowingly stored weapons used in the Brink's heist at his Ottawa-area home, said he was with his wife and parents in Halifax when the crime occurred. The trial continues today.



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