Ottawa Citizen, Canada
May 31 2008


Murder trial hears wiretaps

Men accused in drug dealer's slaying suspected tap, says lead investigator

Laura Drake, The Ottawa Citizen
Published: Saturday, May 31, 2008


Some of the 245,000 wiretap interceptions that eventually led to the
arrest of Shant

Esrabian in the killing of Hussein El-Hajj Hassan were played for the
jury yesterday at Mr. Esrabian's first-degree murder trial.

Mr. Esrabian was arrested on June 28, 2005, the day after Mr. El-Hajj
Hassan's decaying body was discovered in Ottawa's west end.

Police had been led to the shallow grave by Mark Yegin, who is also
charged with first-degree murder, along with a third man, Fadi Saleh.

Mr. El-Hajj Hassan, a 27-year-old cocaine dealer who had made enemies
in the drug underworld, was shot to death on Aug. 20, 2004.

Ottawa Police Service detective Sgt. Greg Brown, the lead investigator
on the case, testified yesterday that he decided to wiretap
Mr. Esrabian in November 2004.

While police officers in the United States must seek permission to
wiretap a phone line, he explained, Canadian police are given
jurisdiction by a Superior Court judge to wiretap a person and any
phones that individual might use.

Most of the intercepts the jury heard yesterday were jocular
conversations between Mr. Esrabian and Mr. Yegin that happened between
November 2004 and April 2005.

As he listened from the prisoner's box, Mr. Esrabian chuckled at the
dialogue between him and Mr. Yegin, in which the two men discussed
going to movies, checking out girls and partying.

"They called each other many, many times a day, and they had this
high-pitched girl talk at the beginning of all their conversations,
calling each other baby and sweetie. We thought it was very funny,"
Sgt. Brown told the jury.

One of the very first phone calls between Mr. Yegin and Mr. Esrabian
revealed that Mr. Yegin thought he had received a phone message from
Sgt. Brown in November 2004.

Although Sgt. Brown told the jury he had not called Mr. Yegin, the
pair became suspicious that their phones were being tapped.

"This was not a good thing at the beginning of a wiretap
investigation," Sgt. Brown said. "That really set us back."

Over the course of the day, the jury heard a wide variety of
conversations that included Mr. Esrabian.

In some, he discussed the police investigation of Mr. El-Hajj Hassan's
murder, pointedly saying he knew nothing about it.

In other phone calls played yesterday, Mr. Esrabian was heard
discussing drug debts with various people, including one phone call
where he screamed uncontrollably in Armenian at two associates.

Sgt. Brown will continue his testimony Monday, when the trial resumes.

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