All-white jury selected for Sask. officers
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The highly-charged trial of two white Saskatchewan police officers accused of abandoning a Native man in the freezing cold officially began on Monday with Canadian Aboriginals already criticizing the process.

A crowd of spectators and media turned out for jury selection in Saskatoon. But of the persons called for duty, only one was Native and she ended up being rejected because she knows Darrel Night, 34, the Salteaux First Nation man who said the officers left him in the cold in January 2000.

Officers Dan Hatchen and Ken Munson will now face a trial before an all-white jury. Outside the courtroom yesterday, Natives said they were disappointed with the selection process but court officials said it was entirely random and fair.

Whether the outcome of the trial will bring satisfaction to the Native community is another question. For at least ten years, they have complained about abuse by police, citing the unresolved deaths of men and boys as young as 17.

Each was found dead on the outskirts of Saskatoon, their frozen bodies revealing a grisly pattern long attributed to police alleged to have picked them up, only to abandon them at the edge of town. Called the "Starlight Tours," they have become lore among the Native community as the official explanation for their death is attributed to alcohol consumption.

Up until now, though, little has been done to investigate complaints made by Natives. When Night stepped forward last year -- following the deaths of two other Aboriginal men -- his allegations finally brought an inquiry into local police practices.

It also brought out racially charged sentiments. The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations set up a police harassment hotline to take complaints from the community and received racist calls.

"If you people act like human beings instead of a bunch of animals, maybe everybody would get along better," said one caller.

When the two officers went before a court to face charges op unlawful confinement and assault in May 2000, tensions erupted outside the courtroom between a white friend of the pair and Native women protesters. "If you guys would let it go, it wouldn't turn into a racial issue," Cheryl Soucy accused of the women.

Witnesses will be called starting today in a trial expected to take a week. The federal government is prosecuting the case and is expected to call Night to testify against the officers.

Relevant Links:
Starlight Tours, from the CBC -

Related Stories:
Hearing held for accused cop (9/12)
Racial tensions rise over police harassment (5/04)
First Nations say police charges don't go far enough (4/13)
Officers charged in Saskatoon (4/12)