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Elaho protestor on trial for perjury



By Andrew Mitchell

A man who accused an RCMP officer of aggravated assault in the fall of 2000 is now on trial for perjury and obstruction of justice.

In 2000 Dennis Zarelli laid an aggravated assault charge against Chief Superintendent Bud Mercer, accusing the officer of cutting a safety line that held up a group of four protesters who were blockading forestry operations in the Elaho Valley.

On that Aug. 2 RCMP officers were sent to the site of the protest to enforce a court order that upheld the rights of the logging companies. Police officers and protestors took video and photographs of the confrontation, which made national news.

Soon after the charges were laid they were stayed when a video turned up that exonerated the officer. Shortly afterwards, Zarelli, who was protesting with the Friends of the Elaho Valley group, was charged with obstruction of justice for giving testimony at a hearing that he knew to be false. In late October of this year the Crown added a perjury charge to Zarelli’s indictment, before it went to trial this week.

Zarelli’s trial is expected to last 10 days.

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