Paul Bernardo: Canadian serial killer to remain in lower security prison

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Canada’s notorious serial killer Paul Bernardo will remain in a medium-security facility despite growing controversy over his confinement there.

The decision to move him from a maximum-security prison was “sound” and followed all “applicable laws and policies”, a review has found.

Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino has come under intense criticism for his handling of the move.

The convicted rapist and murderer has been in prison since 1995.

Bernardo, 58, along with his wife Karla Homolka, committed a string of sex crimes, rapes and murders across the country in the late 1980s and 1990s. The media dubbed the pair the “Ken and Barbie” killers.

In 1995, he was eventually sentenced to life in prison without parole for at least 25 years for the kidnapping and murder of two teenage girls, as well as the manslaughter and rape of his 15-year-old sister-in-law.

In May, the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) announced that Bernardo would be moved from the maximum-security Millhaven Institution in Ontario to the medium-security La Macaza Institution in Quebec.

The move sparked the ire of many Canadians and led the correctional service to launch a formal review of the decision. Some Conservative politicians called for Mr Mendicino to resign over his handling of the matter.

Speaking in Ottawa on Thursday, CSC Commissioner Anne Kelly acknowledged that Bernardo’s move “upset many Canadians” who were left “looking for answers”.

“Hearing about this case so intensely over the past several weeks has brought up strong emotions and rightly so,” said Ms Kelly. “We want Canadians to have confidence in our decisions.”

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In an 85-page report, the CSC determined that Bernardo had met the qualifications needed to move to a lower-security facility 14 times between 1999 and 2022 only to be “overridden” by his needs as a high-profile inmate and a failure to “integrate” with other inmates in a maximum-security environment.

While the report found no wrongdoing from the correctional service in Bernardo’s move, it said there was “likely room within the realm of what is permitted by policy to have ensured greater care, sensitivity and compassion in delivering news of the transfer to victims”.

Mr Mendicino has previously said he was not briefed about Bernardo’s transfer ahead of time.

Canadian authorities believe that Bernardo raped or sexually assaulted at least 18 women between 1987 and 1992, in addition to three killings.

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