|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
BALCO head vows to tell all
Adam Tanner | December 02, 2004 12:02 IST
The head of the BALCO lab charged with distributing steroids to top athletes vowed on Wednesday to tell all in an upcoming television interview as defense lawyers in the case privately expressed dismay.
Also on Wednesday, U.S. district court Judge Susan Illston said she was inclined to reject defense motions to dismiss charges against BALCO head Victor Conte and three others, although she would allow some hearings into how the government conducted the case.
The judge spoke at a pre-trial hearing at which Conte's lawyer Robert Holley said he did not know in advance that Conte had granted an interview to the ABC News magazine 20/20.
"You didn't know about this?" a surprised Illston asked.
"I didn't even know about it until I read about it in the paper," Holley told the court, suggesting some tension with his high-profile client.
Outside the court, without his lawyer, Conte issued a short statement which amounted to a promotion for the Friday broadcast.
"I'm soon going to tell the truth as I know it," Conte told reporters, referring to the Friday 20/20 broadcast. "The world deserves to know the truth about performance-enhancing drugs."
Defense lawyers typically instruct their clients to stay silent in public, lest their statements be used against them at trial. Several lawyers on the case privately expressed surprise and annoyance at his decision to speak out.
Last month Conte issued a toughly worded statement to Reuters condemning the government's conduct in the case, but he has not named names in public. Alyssa Ziegler Apple, a spokeswoman for 20/20, said Conte would do so on Friday.
Conte's complaints about how investigators conducted searches was the focus of several motions to dismiss the case.
"My preliminary view is to deny everything," Illston said, adding the exception of evidentiary hearings on issues such as whether the defendants were read their rights and had proper access to search warrants.
Federal prosecutor Jeff Nedrow acknowledged that agents did not give copies of search warrants upon their arrival, but said the action was not conducted in deliberate bad faith that would require evidence to be excluded.
Nedrow also said that Conte had acted with "incredible audacity" to complain about excessive pre-trial publicity and then grant a national television interview.
The one-time professional bass player arrived at court in a black stretch limousine which he said was provided by ABC. Judge Illston said she hoped the case would go to trial in March.