VANCOUVER -Indo-Canadian brothers accused of bashing a gay couple and making gay slurs were acquitted of assault charges on Monday in a controversial decision by a judge.
Judge Raymond Low ‘s ruling was met by boos, gasps and hisses from the public gallery when he acquitted two brothers of assault charges in the beatings of a gay couple outside a Vancouver condo in 2010.
The “gay bashing” case has angered the community since victim David Holtzman — who died of a heart attack in April — and his partner Peter Reiger were repeatedly beaten and called homophobic slurs outside their downtown Keefer Street home on June 12 that year, reported 24 Hours newspaper.
Parminder “Peter” Bassi and his younger brother Ravinder “Robbie” Bassi were found not guilty Monday. Neither testified in their defence and remained silent as they navigated through throngs of reporters and videographers outside court.
Justice Low determined four eyewitnesses, including beating victims, couldn’t have identified the attackers in the low-light conditions that night.
Two others recognized an attacker through surveillance camera footage, but Low ruled the images weren’t clear, or showed only portions of the suspects’ features, for positive identification.
Reiger, as did many other supporters, friends and family members, attended the ruling but many were too emotional to comment after the decision.
“They’ve been victimized a second time,” said friend Tracey Bell outside court. “There was so much evidence. People who didn’t know my friends came forward … My heart goes out to David, David’s family and Peter’s family and all the loved ones.
“We’ll get through this.”
Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra Herbert, who’s gay and married to a South Asian man, knew the victims well from the extensive volunteer work they contributed to the LGBTQ community.
“It’s just sad all around,” he said. “Not that a conviction would have made things right, but people obviously were hoping somebody would have to do time for the horrible night these two men had to face.”
The Bassi brothers declined to comment on the outcome of their trial, or the possibility of facing the same allegations in a civil suit.
The case was investigated as a hate crime due to the homophobic slurs