Sunday, January 25, 2015

Mr. Big Stings: CTV Fifth Estate looks at the Atif Rafay case in a riveting documentary - accessible through this post - called "Mr. Big stings, cops, criminals and confessions. The CTV Web site contains a wealth of supporting materials. (Must, Must See. HL);

DOCUMENTARY:  "Mr. Big stings: Cops, criminals and confessions,"  by reporter Allya Davidson, broadcast by CTV, on 16 January, 2015.

GIST: "Back in Monroe Atif Rafay hopes to use the Canadian Supreme Court ruling to somehow reopen his case. Unlike Dix, he confessed to Mr. Big and despite the fact that the sting is illegal in the U.S., his confession to Canadian cops was deemed admissible in Washington state court. By the time Rafay and Burns were convicted in 2004, after lengthy extradition processes, they had already been behind bars for almost 10 years. Now, more than a decade after that, barring any legal changes, both will die in prison. Now 39 years old, Atif Rafay has devoted his time to prison university courses and writing. One of his academic essays was published in The Walrus in 2011. In his first post conviction interview. Today, he tells Bob McKeown over the phone from inside Monroe Correctional Center that he was suspicious of Sebastian Burns’ “new friends” from the start, “I mean I didn’t approve of the thing at all from the beginning. It just seemed very, seemed like nothing I wanted to have much to do with.” He also claims he never intended to do anything violent for the undercover criminal gang and that he acted out of fear: “I wanted to indicate to them that this is not something that I’m ever going to do and yet at the same time I’m not ever going to rat you out, I’m not going to do anything to compromise your organization. Really, it was all a dream world created out of movies. It would seem very possible after watching “Goodfellas” that Mr. Big would simply kill me because I was potentially a threat to him. That seemed all completely convincing and I think in a way that it would only be convincing to an 18 year old kid.” Defence counsel and Mr. Big detractor Marie Henein argues that threats, veiled or otherwise are at the problematic heart of Mr. Big operations: “So that's precisely the message that was being sent. So when you say it's imagination, they're not making it up. It's because they're told, "You know who you're sitting with? You’re sitting with somebody that kills people. So you might wanna play ball." Still, that begs the question of why Rafay would admit to a murder he says he didn’t commit. Rafay says this is the key to why Mr. Big is both so successful and so dangerous “I think they’re very clever about that. The Mr. Big operation essentially makes you try to be as plausible as you can in your false confession and that plausibility is what convinces a juror or someone else that: ‘oh it must be true, it must be true’ despite all the countervailing evidence.” Rafay now rests his hopes on the unlikely prospect that the Supreme Court of Canada ruling may have some legal implication south of the border. Failing that, he will remain in prison along with high school friend Sebastian Burns, without any chance of parole. With Andy Rose, the Mr. Big came close to a wrongful conviction, save for DNA evidence and a skeptical prosecutor, is now a free man. He is still struggling to put his life back together. Jason Dix has started a new family and lives in Western Canada. Supporters of Mr. Big claim no one has ever been imprisoned as a result of a false confession to Mr. Big. Critics maintain that if that is in fact true, it’s more a case of a good luck than good work. Both sides are clear that the new guidelines set out by the Supreme Court will have a profound impact on how and if police proceed with any Mr. Big sting in the future."

The entire documentary  - and supporting materials -can be found at:

Related CBC News story:  "In the fifth estate episode, Haslett is asked whether he believes Rafay and Burns could have felt threatened into making their confessions. Of Burns, Haslett says, "I would never have said I'm ever going to do him any physical harm. If he had that perception, that is something that his imagination could've worked [up]." Asked if he did, indeed, feel threatened, Rafay said, "Yeah actually, extremely so. Really, it was all a dream world created out of movies. "It would seem very possible after watching Goodfellas that Mr. Big would simply kill me because I was potentially a threat to him. That seemed completely convincing – in a way that would only be convincing to an 18-year-old kid." Defence counsel Marie Henein argues in the fifth estate piece that threats of one kind or another are the very essence of the Mr. Big sting. "When you say it's imagination, they're not making it up. It's because they're told, 'You know who you're sitting with? You're sitting with somebody that kills people. So you might want to play ball.'""


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