Canada glued to trial of media baron Black


TORONTO -- The Canadian media promises blanket coverage as Canadian media baron Conrad Black goes on trial Wednesday in the Chicago Federal Court on charges of fraud, corruption and racketeering.

The CTV national TV network is timing the launch of new nightly TV magazine show "The Verdict" to the trial's start and Toronto Life, a monthy magazine, is said to be preparing a Web site that will follow every nuance of the trial.

Black, the flamboyant owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and Britain's Daily Telegraph newspapers before his media empire began unravelling in 2003, faces an eight-count indictment for conspiring with former business associates to divert $83 million from his former Hollinger International newspaper groups for his personal use.

Those funds were allegedly received from the buyers of Hollinger newspaper titles. Among the possible witnesses in the Black trial will be Leonard Asper, CEO of CanWest Global Communications Corp., who bought a slew of Canadian newspaper titles from Hollinger in 2000.

The prosecution's star witness will be David Radler, Black's longtime business partner.

If found guilty, Black could spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Black is being defended by Edward Greenspan, Canada's best-known criminal lawyer, and co-counsel Edward Genson, a prominent Chicago lawyer.

The prosecution will be led by Patrick Fitzgerald, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois who secured a recent conviction against I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.