CHICAGO: In its last day before the Western world ground to a halt for the Easter holiday, lawyers at the Windy City's long-running Conrad Black trial shifted the spotlight from His Lordship to co-defendant Peter Atkinson (60) - a former vp at Hollinger International (H-Intl).

Atkinson, his lawyer said, suspected that the 'non-compete' payments pocketed by Black (62) and others following the sale of H-Intl newspaper titles to Canadian media giant CanWest might not be entirely kosher.

The court was told that in 2003 Atkinson emailed Darren Sukonick, a company lawyer, questioning the payments to Black and his co-accused, John Boultbee (63) and Mark Kipnis(59).

"We have to be confident about the facts and we have to make very full disclosure," Atkinson stated in his email, adding that shareholders should be told if the payments weren't approved by Hollinger's directors.

Nonetheless, Black and David Radler, a former H-Intl president who has admitted guilt and turned prosecution witness, each pocketed $11.9 million (€8.90m; £6.07m) in non-compete money from the CanWest sale, while Boultbee and Atkinson each got $1.3m.

H-Intl, in its glory days the world's third-largest publisher of English-language newspapers, is now known as Sun-Times Media Group.

The trial continues.

Data sourced from (Canada); additional content by WARC staff