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Blood Victims Hope To See Charges

RCMP Report Due Today

Nov 20, 2002 | The Ottawa Citizen

The RCMP will cap its criminal investigation into the tainted blood scandal of the 1980s today with an announcement that victims expect will reveal charges are being laid.

After a five-year investigation into the matter, the Mounties issued a news release last night inviting the media to an early afternoon press conference in Toronto today.

"We have always put our hope in the RCMP to get their man," said Mike McCarthy, a past vice-president of the Canadian Hemophilia Society who got hepatitis C from the blood supply. "My hopes are that there is justice served."

Mr. McCarthy said victims have always rejected the notion that the blood system inadvertently went awry through some kind of "act of God."

"Somebody had their hand in it."

He said the victims have either lost their lives or seen them "destroyed."

"We haven't been able to get on with our lives because of the spectre of what happened to us. People were given death sentences, so they could never plan for their future."

Mr. McCarthy said criminal charges, if laid, will help bring some "closure" to the agony of those victims still alive and families of those who have died.

"For some people, an apology would have done. But for the most part, people firmly believe that if there are criminal charges that lead to convictions, then people need to go to jail for what happened. Because there has to be a price to pay for the tremendous damage that's been done."

Today's announcement comes less than a week before the anniversary next Tuesday of the release of the voluminous report by Justice Horace Krever in 1997. His federally commissioned inquiry blasted a range of players including the federal government, the provinces and the Red Cross -- for mistakes that left about 1,200 Canadians infected with blood-borne HIV and tens of thousands contaminated with hepatitis C.

Judge Krever named individuals in his report who were central to the tragedy. He wrote that the events at the heart of blood system's breakdown "did not occur without human intervention. For the most part they were the result of decisions, actions and inactions by persons, organizations, and governments."

Nonetheless, he explicitly stated that he was not either directly or through implication apportioning criminal liability. That job was left up to the RCMP, which launched its investigation soon after Krever's report was released.

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