Claim of stolen meteorite goes to Yukon court
WHITEHORSE — A decade-long court fight over allegations of a stolen meteorite that was growing a life form is now in the hands of the Yukon Court of Appeal.
Daniel Sabo is suing the federal government, staff members with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), and an RCMP officer claiming the meteorite he found in 1986 was replaced with a replica and he wants $12 million.
Scientists with the GSC concluded the growth on the space rock could be a natural result of oxidation of minerals, a salt-type crystal or a type of lichen.
The Yukon Supreme Court rejected Sabo’s claim in a decision last year.
The case he presented to the court in 2010 claimed RCMP Cpl. Dan Parlee failed to properly investigate, and that forensics expert Bill Schneck, who was hired by Sabo’s former lawyer, tampered with the rock without his permission.
Sabo, who represented himself before the appeal court panel on Monday, used photos showing the rock before and after it was returned to him.
He claimed a date stamp on one photo shows the GSC sliced into the rock before it had his permission to do so. He also said the agency obtained his permission only “under duress”.
Sabo said he found the rock while working on his mining claim near Mayo, Yukon.
An assaying company in B.C. agreed it was likely a meteorite, though the International Meteorite Society is the only group that can make such a certification
In 1998, Sabo noticed a green formation on the meteorite and tests showed the growth could be some kind of life form.
The rock was sent to the GSC in Ottawa to be analyzed and later polished with the small cut taken off for more detailed study.
Sabo has continually argued that the GSC kept his rock, replacing it with a replica.
Justices Harvey Groberman, Christopher Hinkson and David Harris have reserved their decision on the matter.
While Sabo has estimated the rock’s value at $12.1 million, Alexander Benitah, who represents the Attorney General of Canada in the case, pointed to estimates that had was worth between $1,000 and $2,500 based on the evidence of the GSC.
Benitah also said Sabo’s valuation is based solely on the highest-priced meteorite found on the Internet.
He said there is simply no evidence to support Sabo’s claim and asked that the appeal be dismissed.