Murdered teen’s family pleads for speedier court process
Nearly four years after young Maple Batalia was brutally gunned down in Surrey, closure remains a far-off prospect for her still-grieving family.
Batalia was just 19 years old when she was murdered in the parkade of the Simon Fraser University Surrey Campus, where she had been studying to become a doctor, in Sept. 2011.
Her ex-boyfriend, Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwal, was charged in her slaying the following year, and the case has been gradually making its way through the courts ever since.
But for Batalia’s family, the pace has been far too slow.
“It’s really hard,” the victim’s mother Sarbjit told CTV Vancouver. “Family, friends – we are waiting for justice.”
The family has been making an effort to attend court dates, but said they sometimes arrive only to learn proceedings are being pushed back. The case was also delayed after the accused changed lawyers.
“I get very upset when they have to reschedule. We cannot live [with] this kind of stress,” Sarjbit said.
Batalia’s parents returned from a trip to India for the latest court date, a pre-trial conference Wednesday morning that Dhaliwal did not appear at. It took just over half an hour, and the next isn’t scheduled until October.
Trial itself isn’t expected to get underway until February 2016.
Fed up, the family said they are planning a petition for court reform that would push similar cases through the system faster for the sake of the victims.
“Life is [at a] standstill,” Sarbjit said, crying. “I appeal [to] all Canadians, please, [put] this kind of case on the fast track.”
The campaign is being supported by former Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode, a friend of the family’s who told CTV Vancouver the petition is currently being worked on by SFU professors and a lawyer.
In an emailed statement, the federal Department of Justice did not respond directly to the Batalia family’s concerns, but said government is “always considering ways to strengthen the justice system and is committed to ensuring that the superior courts have an appropriate level of judicial resources.”
B.C.’s Ministry of Justice wouldn't comment on the case direclty either, but said the time to trial for provincial criminal cases is improving, and sis currently the shortest it's been in a decade.
Another man, Gursimar Singh Bedi, was charged with manslaughter and accessory after the fact in Batalia’s death. Dhaliwal is charged with first-degree murder.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Maria Weisgarber