Ex-fugitive appears in Winnipeg court
Ex-fugitive Ian Jackson MacDonald appeared briefly in a Winnipeg courtroom on Friday.
MacDonald was returned to Winnipeg on Thursday night after being extradited from the United States to face charges of conspiracy to import marijuana. He has not yet retained counsel and will be held at the remand centre until a bail hearing on Monday afternoon.
The charges stem from an RCMP investigation dating back to 1979. MacDonald was arrested in Florida, but broke out of custody in 1980 and spent 30 years on the lam before he was recaptured last year.
Crown counsel Ian Mahon said the 30-year-old case is ready to be brought back to court.
"An assessment was made that there is sufficient evidence to proceed," he said.
MacDonald, now 72, was pushed into court in a wheelchair.
"I understand he is not in the best of health," said Mahon.
Mahon said the extradition process that brought MacDonald from U.S. federal custody in Florida went smoothly.
MacDonald was facing charges in the U.S. for his escape, but they were dropped. That has allowed the marijuana case to proceed.
That investigation led to then-MLA Bob Wilson being impeached and convicted in the marijuana importation scheme. Wilson was in the court Friday and greeted MacDonald – whom he said he hadn't seen in 30 years – like an old friend.
Wilson said he is hoping that a statement from MacDonald will clear him.
"I'm mad at the government because they don't move fast enough," Wilson said. "I don't know why they don't set me free right now."
Wilson was convicted in the same 1980 indictment that MacDonald is now facing charges on. MacDonald is alleged to have sold Wilson boats as part of a marijuana importation scheme.
Wilson said he would like a statement from MacDonald that would help Wilson's claim that was only intending to buy boats from MacDonald.