OTTAWA - Senate officials are expected to appear in an Ottawa courtroom today to explain some of the chamber's rules on the second day of one of the most heavily covered Canadian court cases in years.Suspended senator Mike Duffy stands accused of 31 counts of fraud, bribery and breach of trust and pleaded not guilty to them all on the opening day of his trial.The trial, being heard by Ontario Justice Charles Vaillancourt, began Tuesday with the Crown accusing Duffy of skirting the chamber's rules for his own benefit and his own lawyer mounting a vigorous defence.The Crown attempted to portray an allegedly corrupt senator who made personal trips on the public dime, who paid acquaintances for questionable contracts, and who extorted the Prime Minister's Office to pay off his fraudulent living expenses.Defence Lawyer Donald Bayne countered with an alleged conspiracy by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's most senior staff to force a sitting senator to repay expenses he never believed were wrongly collected in the first place.Duffy is expected to take the witness stand at some point during the trial, although it's not clear when that will occur.Harper's former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, is also expected to fly back from London, England, where he now lives and works, to testify. The trial is scheduled to run through the first part of June.The trial is complex, spanning four distinct areas.The most politically toxic area involves a bribery charge — the allegation that Duffy set a series of conditions before he'd agree to repay $90,000 worth of contested living expenses.But Bayne said Wright told the RCMP that the government was basically forcing somebody to repay money that they probably didn't owe. A full transcript of that RCMP evidence has yet to be released.Harper, meanwhile, said during an appearance in North Vancouver Tuesday that he is not concerned about being called to testify at Duffy's trial."As you know, investigators looked at this and affirmed what I said, I have no knowledge of these things, I will not be called as a witness," he said.
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