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Judge views crack video, reserves decision on if lawyers will see it

Mayor Rob Ford arrives to host his weekly radio show in Toronto on Nov. 3, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Blinch

The video in which Mayor Rob Ford appears to smoke crack cocaine will remain private for now.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Ian Nordheimer watched the two videos seized by police in chambers as he considered an application by a man seen posing with the mayor in a widely published photograph for access to the video.

The judge had ordered the Crown to bring the video to court on Tuesday. The video was seized during Project Traveller raids — Toronto police’s sweeping drugs and weapons investigation — in June.

The Crown said that one of the videos is a subset of the other.

After watching the videos, Nordheimer said there is “theoretically” information on there that could help someone pursue such leads. But he has still not decided whether there are grounds to allow Khattak to view it.

He promised to rule on it soon.

Mohammad Khattak was arrested during the sweep and faces drug trafficking charges on behalf of a criminal organization.

Khattak’s lawyers — Nathan Gorham and Daniel Brown — were seeking court access to the video, arguing their client’s reputation is being harmed by being associated with it.

Ford is seen posing in the photo with Anthony Smith, who was later shot and killed, as well as Khattak and another man, who have both been charged in Project Traveller.

On Friday, the Crown suggested there is a “real possibility” the video will not be part of the evidence against any of the accused in Project Traveller and it should never be shown in that context.

“We believe that he wasn’t involved either in the production, possession or the attempted sale of the video,” Gorham told City’s Breakfast Television on Friday. “And since the stories broke he and his family have been saddled with the unfortunate innuendo that he was involved with the video.”

Allowing Nordheimer to view the video — but not releasing it publicly — would clear his name, Khattak’s defense lawyers argued in court Friday.

The Crown argued that Khattak has no legal interest in the video and should not view it, nor should the judge view it on his behalf.

The Crown said it will not be disclosing the video to Khattak because it is irrelevant to the charges against him, meaning Khattak is not in the video.

After police said last week they had the video of Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine, the mayor called for its release. Brown has invited Ford to join their application for the video, Gorham said.

As for the photo, Gorham said, “We believe the photo involving Ford and my client is a one-off innocent encounter.”

Lisi documents may be released

Nordheimer is also expected to rule this week, as early as Tuesday, whether remaining parts of a document that shed light on Ford’s relationship with Alessandro (Sandro) Lisi — an alleged drug dealer who is also his friend — can be released.

The first sections of the Lisi court document that were released earlier this month revealed that police believe Ford’s photo with the three men was taken at a home on Windsor Drive that a confidential informant said is a “crack house.”

On Oct. 31, Justice Ian Nordheimer ordered the release of a 474-page document with photos. The document details evidence police collected in order to get a search warrant that led to Lisi’s arrest.

The Toronto Star believes the blacked out portions of the document contain more bombshell revelations, including conversations between police and former officials of the mayor’s office.

Lawyers for the media are also expected to argue in the coming weeks that wiretap information from the Project Traveller investigation should be made public.

Case against Alessandro Lisi

Lisi’s defence lawyer was in court Tuesday on behalf of his client, and the case’s next court date is Jan. 14, 2014.

Lisi is already out on bail after being arrested and charged in October with four drug offences, including trafficking marijuana.

He’s also been charged with extortion in relation to the crack video.

Police claim he threatened two alleged gang members — Mohamed Siad and Liban Siyad — to try to get the video in the hours and days after the Toronto Star and U.S. website Gawker first reported the video’s existence.

Both Siad and Siyad were arrested as part of Project Traveller. It was that day of those raids that police seized a hard drive on which the video was ultimately found as a deleted file, Blair said.

–With files from CityNews.ca staff