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(en) Canada, Montreal, G20 Trial Update: Jury is selected; Crown excludes Blacks and students

From montreal <montreal@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Tue, 8 Apr 2003 12:08:48 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E

[NOTE: If you live in the Montreal-area, your support in court at the
trial of Jonathan, Christina and Jaggi is much appreciated. A strong
courtroom presence is essential, especially in front of a jury. The trial
is taking place from Tuesday, April 8 for three weeks, at the Palais de
Justice - near metros Champ de Mars or Place d.Armes, at Notre-Dame and
St-Laurent - in courtroom 3,11 between 9:30am to 4:30pm. Please come
support Jonathan, Christina and Jaggi who are facing prison time as a
result of the police targeting of political protesters.]

MONTREAL, APRIL 7, 2003 -- The G-20 "riot" trial began today at Montreal's
Palais de Justice, with the selection of a 9-woman, 3-man jury to judge
activists and organizers Jonathan Aspireault-Masse, Christina Xydous and
Jaggi Singh on the charge of "participating in a riot". The charges relate
a demonstration of about 1000 in front of Montreal's Sheraton Hotel
against the G-20, IMF and World Bank that occurred on October 23, 2000,
more than two years ago.

The G20 trial marks one of the first times in recent memory, in Montreal,
that political protesters will have their charges decided in front of a
jury. [At present, three members of the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty
(OCAP) are also facing similar charges, as well as more serious charges,
in front of a jury in Toronto.]

The jury pool of more than 200 people filled the largest courtroom at the
Palais de Justice. The defendants were able to pose specific questions to
the jury to determine bias; the questions were: "Do you have any prejudice
against anti-globalization protesters or demonstrations?" and "Do you
work, or have you ever worked, in a managerial capacity, for the World
Trade Organization, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the
G-20 or any other related institution or organizations".

Several potential jurors volunteered openly that they were in favor of
protesters. One middle-aged woman stated that she was involved in protests
in the 1970s, while another man said, "I haven't worked for the IMF, and I
don't ever want to work for the IMF!. Unfortunately, both persons will not
be serving on the jury, although they did wish the defendants good luck in
front of other potential jurors. Other potential jurors openly indicated
bias against protesters and were also excluded.

In the end, a jury of 9 women and 3 men was chosen, but not before the
Crown was able to exclude, as permitted in law, several potential jurors
(the defence also has the same right). However, the crown systematically
excluded several young students, 2 CEGEP teachers and one writer, all of
whom stated confidently they could judge the case without bias. Also, the
crown excluded two young black men -- one who is a college student, the
other who works in a fast-food restaurant. On the exclusion of the second
young black man, and noting that all jurors selected to that point had
been white, defendant Jaggi Singh, who is representing himself, stood up
to object, stating, "I want a jury that represents the diversity of
Montreal, not an all-white jury." In the end, only one juror is a visible

The jurors' occupations are as follows: manager, flight attendant,
computer technician, day-care worker, contract administrator, mature
student, secretary, housewife, accounts officer, aircraft mechanic, paint
company manager and production manager.s assistant.

The trial will begin with the Crown's arguments on Tuesday morning (April
8) in courtroom 3,11 of the Palais de Justice in Montreal (corner of Notre
Dame and St-Laurent, near metros Champ de Mars and Place d'Armes). The
trial is expected to last for at least 3 weeks. For more information,
e-mail montreal@tao.ca.

[Background info ...]


Three Montreal Organizers Face Jury Trial and Potential Prison Sentences

An Appeal for Your Support and Solidarity

MONTREAL, March 31, 2003 -- Next Monday April 7, three Montreal-area
organizers will begin a jury trial on charges of "participating in a
riot". The charges date back to October 23, 2000, when 1000 people
demonstrated against a closed meeting of the Group of 20 (G-20) outside
Montreal's Sheraton Hotel. The G-20 is comprised of finance ministers and
bank governors from 19 countries, as well as the chiefs of the World Bank
and IMF. The Montreal G-20 protest was one of several protests that were
part of the anti-FTAA mobilization before Quebec City in April 2001.

Jonathan Aspireault-Masse, Jaggi Singh and Christina Xydous are active
local organizers, involved in various social justice groups and
organizations. They are facing charges that carry the potential penalty of
up to 2 years in prison, and if found guilty, a minimum sentence of at
least six months is quite likely in at least one case.

While Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina are charged with participating in a
riot, there is no evidence that any of the accused engaged in any violent
behavior at the protest. Rather, the crown alleges that they were simply
present during what the police have deemed to be a "riot", which is
apparently enough to determine guilt. Any of the up to 1000 people present
at the protest could have been similarly charged, but Jonathan, Jaggi and
Christina have been singled out by the police.

There have been hundreds of Montreal-area residents who have been charged
at various political protests in the past five years -- mass arrests of
hundreds at a time is a typical Montreal police strategy -- and there are
several ongoing trials related to political protest. However, the G-20
riot trial will mark one of the first times that protest charges will be
argued in front of a jury in Montreal. Moreover, the "participating in a
riot" charges, at the Quebec Superior Court, represents a clear escalation
of the legal intimidation of political protesters.

[Currently, in Toronto, three members of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty (OCAP) are facing similar charges, with one accused facing a
further charge of counseling to commit illegal acts (which carries a
penalty of up to 5 years in prison).]

The Montreal G-20 riot trial was delayed in coming to trial for more than
two years, while the accused pursued further police evidence at Federal
Court. They won a partial victory when the police were forced to admit
that the Surete de Quebec (SQ) used at least 23 plainclothes crowd
infiltrators during the G-20 demonstration (in addition to eight Montreal
police undercovers, the riot police, mounted police and RCMP). The
identities of the SQ crowd infiltrators remain confidential for reasons of
national security, as well as other police intelligence and surveillance
files on certain protesters.

Jonathan and Christina will be represented by lawyer Pascal Lescarbeau,
while Jaggi is acting as his own lawyer. The trial will be presided by
Quebec Superior Court Judge Boilard, and is expected to last for at least
3 weeks. It will begin, with opening motions and the selection of a
bilingual jury, on April 7 at 9:30am in courtroom 5,15 of the Palais de
Justice (corner of Notre-Dame and St-Laurent, near metro Champ-de-Mars).

For more information, or to stay in touch, please e-mail montreal@tao.ca.

---> HOW YOU CAN HELP <---

Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina are not facing this trial alone, and rely on
your support and solidarity. Here are several ways you can help:

ATTEND THE TRIAL IN SUPPORT ---> It is crucial to have a strong presence
at each day of the trial, to show the jury that there is significant
community support for the defendants. You are strongly encouraged to
attend the trial, which will be at the Palais de Justice (Notre-Dame and
St-Laurent, near metro Champ-de-Mars) beginning on April 7 for three
weeks. The trial will usually take place between 9:30am until 4:30pm with
a break for lunch. The trial will be bilingual. To receive updates about
court times, please e-mail montreal@tao.ca.

LOOKING FOR WITNESSES ---> The accused are still seeking people who
attended the demonstration on October 23, 2000, and can act as witnesses.
While the protest happened more than 2 years ago, and potential witnesses
might not remember all details, we still encourage you to get in touch. If
you are a potential witness, or can act as a witness, please e-mail

FINANCIAL SUPPORT ---> Your financial support, to cover legal expenses, is
also encouraged. Jonathan is covered by legal aid, but Christina and Jaggi
are raising funds indepedently, and there are other legal and personal
costs for all three. As well, Jaggi is representing himself, and faces
four other trials this year, including another lengthy jury trial (again,
on the charge of "participating in a riot") relating to the Quebec City
anti-FTAA protests. Please e-mail montreal@tao.ca if you can offer
financial support.

YOUR MORAL SUPPORT ---> Even if you can't attend the trial, be a witness
or offer financial support, it's important for Jonathan, Jaggi and
Christina to know that they have support. Your messages of support can be
sent by e-mail to montreal@tao.ca.

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