Yukon miner Daniel Sabo is “99 per cent sure” the Yukon Supreme Court will order delivery of a chunk of meteorite that federal authorities refuse to surrender.
Sabo intends to use the hunk of interstellar material as evidence that authorities, in 1999, stole his meteorite and replaced it with a carefully sculpted fake.
If the meteorite in his possession is a fake, and the government held off-cut is also a fake and if he can prove that by showing that the two are composed of different materials, he has a good basis for fraud charges.
The National Geological Survey in Ottawa, which has custody of the off-cut, has flatly refused to surrender it to Sabo under any circumstances — unless, of course, the Yukon Supreme Court forces the issue.
“I’m having difficulty recognizing the legal basis on which you don’t return the off-cut,” said Justice Ronald Veale to lawyers representing the geological survey during Monday court proceedings.
“What you want to do is give him the off-cut, and then he’ll go away, and then you won’t have any more lawsuits,” he said.
“In the normal course of things, the off-cut should have been returned,” said a lawyer representing the survey.
However, in giving up the off-cut, the government would have no way of countering Sabo’s fraud allegations, she said.
Amid Sabo’s continued allegations, the off-cut is no longer a scientific artifact — it’s evidence in a fraud case, she said.
If granted unconditionally, Sabo could, theoretically, replace the off-cut with a fake and use it to pursue falsely based fraud charges.
An earlier independent test was conducted by Ontario-based geologist Steve Kissin using the government off-cut and an off-cut from Sabo’s “replica.”
Kissin concluded the two off-cuts were one and the same — a conclusion that Sabo disputes, citing a possible a last-minute replacement of the off-cut, as well as Kissin’s possible ties to the National Geological Survey.
Justice Veale reasoned that, in light of the report, the geological survey had few reasons to continue holding the off-cut. Kissin himself would be defence enough in the event of a fraud trial.
A decision is still pending — but if granted, Sabo’s custody of the disputed chunk of meteorite may still come laden with a host of conditions.
The geological survey requested an independent third party to deliver the off-cut from Thunder Bay to a laboratory in Vancouver. They also requested that they be allowed to bring in experts to supervise the testing.
If material discrepancy is indeed found between the off-cut and the alleged replica, Sabo intends to pursue multiple charges against a substantial list of government and geological officials — all of whom conspired to rob him of the original meteorite, he said.
“It’s about holding those individuals accountable,” said Sabo.
The meteorite was originally discovered by Sabo in 1986 while prospecting near Mayo.
In 1999, Sabo struck a loose agreement with Yukon government geologist Charlie Roots to exchange the meteorite for reserves of jade-like rock located close to Sabo’s mining claim.
While Sabo prospected the jade-like reserves, he left the meteorite in Roots’ custody and Roots sent it to facilities in Thunder Bay for testing, says Sabo.
The transfer and subsequent testing was all done against his consent, says Sabo.
As part of those tests, a small nickel-sized off-cut was removed from the meteorite.
After he lobbied for its return, even going so far as to file a criminal complaint of theft with the RCMP, the meteorite was returned to Sabo — yet the off-cut remained in government custody.
Even without laboratory testing, the government off-cut is clearly of a different material, says Sabo.
Sabo took an off-cut from his alleged replica to compare to the government-held off-cut. Even though the government’s off-cut was twice as large as Sabo’s, Kissen’s report said that it only weighed half as much.
If obtained, the government off-cut will be sent to an independent Vancouver laboratory, where it will undergo a number of tests to determine if it shares the same identity with the alleged fake meteorite.
As well as measuring the off-cut’s mysterious density, Sabo intends to test a full range of the off-cut’s trace elements.
“That’s like a DNA test. If (the tests) vary even a little that shows different iron,” he said.
If Sabo’s meteorite and the government off-cut are both fakes, as Sabo alleges, proving that they’re both of different materials will easily give credence to the notion that something fishy is afoot.
“It’s not a simple case, and there’s no real precedent,” said Justice Veale on Monday.