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OTTAWA - Rui Wen Pan, convicted in the killing and dismemberment of his one-time girlfriend, has lost his appeal to the country's top court.
In a ruling yesterday, the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Toronto businessman's challenge of strict jury secrecy rules that blocked him from fighting his first-degree murder conviction.
Pan, who has maintained his innocence, was arrested after his former girlfriend's body parts were found scattered around eastern Ontario in 1988.
Police believe he was obsessed with violinist Selina Shen's past relationships with other men and felt betrayed when she broke up with him.
The charges led to a marathon of legal proceedings that included three trials. The first ended in a hung jury. The second was declared a mistrial after a juror sent the judge a note suggesting she'd been pressured by other members of the jury. A third jury convicted Pan, and he was sentenced to life in jail with no parole for 25 years.
Jury secrecy rules, with few exceptions, bar lawyers trying to show a verdict was improper from presenting evidence about what happened inside a jury room. Jurors can be charged for disclosing anything about deliberations.
``I am fully satisfied that a considerable measure of secrecy surrounding the deliberations of the jury is essential to the proper functioning of that institution,'' Justice Louise Arbour wrote for the unanimous court.
Secrecy encourages candour in jury decision-making, protects juror's privacy and helps ensure a verdict's finality, the ruling said.
The court also said, however, there are limits on secrecy rules. They refer only to what happens inside the jury room - not outside influences on the jury, it said.
For example, the rules don't apply if jurors get wind of information about a crime not covered at trial or learn of an outside attempt to sway a jury.
The judgment also says Parliament could relax the rules for research into jury deliberations.
Pan's lawyers argued he shouldn't have faced a third trial because the second jury was about to acquit. That didn't happen, they said, only because of the behaviour of the juror who'd sent the note.
A probe by the attorney-general's office found the juror lied about how much she knew about the case and didn't reveal she was taking medication that affected her alertness.
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