HALIFAX — A Nova Scotia man who served 17 years in prison for murder has been acquitted of the charge.
Glen Assoun's family cried quietly Friday as the Crown dropped the case, effectively exonerating Assoun in the 1995 murder of Brenda Way.
Earlier in the day, federal Justice Minister David Lametti quashed the conviction, saying Assoun should be granted a new trial because he was a victim of a miscarriage of justice.
A few hours later, Assoun pleaded not guilty when the second-degree murder charge was read aloud in Nova Scotia Supreme Court.
Crown prosecutor Mark Scott then said, "there is no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.''
The case was immediately dismissed.
"This is a momentous day in the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia,'' said Justice James Chipman. "Glen Assoun, you maintained your innocence, you kept the faith with remarkable dignity ... (and) you are to be commended for your courage and resilience.''
Philip Campbell, one of Assoun's lawyers, said his client has suffered greatly over the years.
"We have a belief in the factual innocence of Mr. Assoun,'' he said. "We hope the community of Halifax will welcome him back and embrace him as an innocent man.''
Earlier: Glen Assoun granted bail in case of possible wrongful conviction. Story continues below.
Lametti's decision said a federal inquiry determined "relevant and reliable information'' was never provided to Assoun during his trial in 1999.
"Promoting a fair and impartial criminal justice system that respects the needs of victims while protecting against potential miscarriages of justice is crucial to furthering Canadians' confidence in our justice system,'' Lametti said in a statement.
Assoun was convicted by a jury of killing his ex-girlfriend, whose body was found in a Halifax-area parking lot on Nov. 12, 1995.
The case against him was based largely on the testimony of witnesses whose circumstantial evidence has since been questioned by lawyers who work to free the wrongfully convicted.
Kirk Makin, co-president of the Innocence Canada legal group, said Lametti's decision represents the ``next development in what we believe is an egregious wrongful conviction case.''
Assoun was released on bail in November 2014, based on a preliminary assessment that determined he may have been wrongfully convicted.
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