Leaks to the UPAC: the lawyer of Marc-Yvan Côté appealed to force journalists to testify
File PHOTO, DIDIER DEBUSSCHÈRE
Tuesday, February 13, 2018 12:05
Tuesday, 13 February, 2018 18:39
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Me Jacques Larochelle, a lawyer for Marc-Yvan Côté, is going to appeal to force journalists Marie-Maude Denis and Louis Lacroix to testify against their will about the sources which have fueled their stories.
The defence lawyer was not slow to make known its position, the day after the decision of the judge André Perreault of the Court of Québec, which released the two journalists from their subpoena.
Mr. Larochelle insists to ask to know the identity of their sources or, at least, their hierarchical rank within the UPAC in the context of its request for a stay of proceedings at the trial for fraud and corruption of his client, Marc-Yvan Côté, former minister Nathalie Normandeau, and their four co-accused.
In the meantime to make its case in the Court of appeal or the superior Court (application for judicial review) regarding the testimony of journalists, mr. Larochelle started Tuesday morning its argument on the merits of its motion to abort the proceedings because of the many leaks of evidence in the media.
The defence suggests that these leaks – about fifteen in total, which were fed news stories to Radio-Canada, L’actualité, La Presse and TVA and the Journal de Montréal and Journal de Québec – have had a prejudicial effect on the accused, who were thus deprived of their right to a jury trial and their right to a fair and just trial.
The direction of the UPAC in the shot?
“It is obvious that at UPAC, we investigate the leaks by the fuiteurs [sic] or that the direction is in the shot”, said mr. Larochelle, indignant. According to him, the attorney general (or the Director of criminal and penal prosecutions), in not ensuring to stop the leaks, has failed in its “duty of care” to protect the evidence and to ensure a sound administration of justice.
Failing to identify the source of leaks from the police, the public ministry would have been able to at the very least ask for an injunction to prevent the media from reporting the evidence of surveys, data Sheet, Yoke, Ivy and Mâchurer, he argues. The “fault of the State”, he said, had been “disastrous” for the accused. “We are in the presence of a violation to be extremely serious to the integrity of the judicial system.”
Contempt of court
The media that have reported elements of the evidence to the police before the trial would even have to be accused of contempt of court, pleaded mr. Larochelle, denouncing the treatment of his client, whose reputation has been “completely destroyed” by the media and by parliamentarians who have commented on the reports.
Mps too talkative
The lawyer also complained in court the comments of the leader of the parti québecois Jean-François Lisée, the leader of the CAQ, François Legault and the member for Québec solidaire Amir Khadir to the interest of his client. It is indignant of the”insult” of a deputy caquiste Éric Caire, who had compared the former fundraiser liberal Marc-Yvan Côté “Toxic pest”, a character from a horror movie of the 80’s.
Mr. Larochelle has denounced the behavior of members of the national Assembly, who have not complied, according to him, the well-known of the “sub judice” in commenting on this case pending before the courts. His client, he said, has been the victim of a “torrent of verbal abuse all the more insulting each other” and attacks “slanderous”.
“What is his trial, now, in this atmosphere totally poisonous to the attorney-general has helped to create, ensures the integrity of the judicial system? No way. His trial, he has already suffered three times rather than one; it has undergone in the media, the public and the national Assembly.”
Replica of the Crown
The Crown, for its part, argued to the judge that the trial “should take place” and that it is the only way to maintain public confidence in the administration of justice. Ms. Catherine Dumais has condemned, in its turn, leaks in the media and recalled that three investigations – a of the SQ, and two to the UPAC – have been launched to attempt to find the origin of the casting, still unknown to this day.
“The State has made concrete actions to try to stem the leaks, actions that are still ongoing. Could not be imputed to the State of the facts and acts of malicious individuals to derail the trial,” she pleaded, prompting the judge to launch a “strong message” to the authors of the leaks in dismissing the motion in arrest procedures.
“The trial must be held before courts of justice. In no time, we must leave to believe in the fuiteurs (sic) that their actions affect the independence of the judiciary. The message should be just the opposite.”
As for the derogatory comments towards Marc-Yvan Côté, Me Dumais recalled that the former minister – who testified at the Gomery inquiry and the Commission Charbonneau – was already known to the public “well before the leaks”. The criminal trial he could help “restore the reputation of the case”, she observed.
The judge Perreault has indicated that it should make its decision on 26 march at the topic of the two queries in judgment of the procedures (the one on the leaks and media type Jordan). The date could, however, move if the procedures of the defence, on appeal, are conclusive by then about the media. If the trial is held, it will begin on 9 April.