Arrest of a journalist: the police of Gatineau on the defensive

News 16 March, 2018
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    Antoine Trépanier

    Simon-Pier Ouellet

    Friday, 16 march 2018, 16:21

    Friday, 16 march 2018, 16:21

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    The police of Gatineau defends his decision to have arrested a journalist for criminal harassment, while the latter was trying to get an interview with a caseworker within the framework of a story.

    The journalist Antoine Trépanier Radio-Canada Ottawa-Gatineau was arrested and released on a promise to appear Tuesday night.

    A few hours earlier, the director of the organization Big brothers and Big sisters of Outaouais Yvonne Dube lodged a complaint to the police for criminal harassment. She would have feared for his safety.

    “When we receive a complaint from a victim, the first thing to do when meeting a suspect is read his or her rights to ensure that if he gives a version, it will be received legally in the courts,” explained the director of the Service de police de Gatineau, Mario Harel.

    The journalist was preparing a story on the past of the director who would be falsely presented as a lawyer and have practiced law without authorization from September 2011 to march 2012.

    The police refused to clarify the allegations of the victim alleged in this case, but claims that the policeman has held that the remedy of immediate was to stop the suspect to protect the victim.

    “We don’t have to judge the past of a victim. The victims have the right to be believed and to be heard by the police. Not to act, it is the victim who would have asked questions, ” said Mr. Harel. He didn’t want to say if there was a real threat to it.

    Complaint without merit

    The management of Radio-Canada supports the work of its reporter. Antoine Trépanier would have left a voice message to the lady before having a telephone interview. And then, he would have sent an e-mail to offer him an interview after an appointment cancelled the day before.

    According to the State-owned Company, the complaint is ” without merit “.

    “We don’t believe blindly the people. Victims must make a written declaration and if they give false information to the police, they are likely to be accused of mischief or obstructing the work of police officers, ” replied the chief of police of Gatineau.

    Gatineau police submitted their file to the director of criminal and penal prosecutions. The president of the Fédération professionnelle des journalistes du Québec Stéphane Giroux doubt that criminal charges be filed.

    “This is so illogical that I can’t believe that charges are brought”, he reacts after the press conference of the police of Gatineau.

    The FPJQ is concerned about the precedent set by the arrest.

    “It provides a kind of free pass to someone who would like to put sticks in the wheels of journalists. The police would have been able to use their discretion, ” said Mr. Giroux.

    The alleged victim Yvonne Dubé declined to comment today. Big brothers and Big sisters of Ottawa should hold a press conference next week.