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(en) Montreal G20 Trial Verdict: NOT GUILTY!!!

From montreal <montreal@dojo.tao.ca>
Date Fri, 25 Apr 2003 08:41:29 +0200 (CEST)

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

MONTREAL, Thursday, April 24, 2003 -- After deliberating for more than one
day, a Montreal jury of 9 women and 2 men returned an emphatic verdict of
"not guilty" in the riot trial of activists Jonathan Aspireault-Masse,
Jaggi Singh and Christina Xydous*. The charges date back to October 23,
2000, more than two-and-a-half years ago, when over 1000 people gathered
in downtown Montreal to protest a meeting of the G-20 (which includes the
heads of the IMF and World Bank). The trial lasted three weeks.

The jury verdict was all the more powerful since the defendants were also
cleared of the lesser charge of "unlawful assembly" which has been used
against hundreds of Montreal protesters in the past decade. The jury ended
up siding with a group of openly anarchist and leftist defendants who
didn't hide their political beliefs. The Crown's case relied heavily on
the testimonies of several senior officers of the Montreal police, men
with at least two decades experience. Their accounts were soundly rejected
in favor of the defense -- presented by lawyer Pascal Lescarbeau, who
represented Jonathan and Christina, and Jaggi, who represented himself.
Their defense consistently challenged police behavior, as well as the
targeting of outspoken political activists for their beliefs, and not
their acts. The trial also revealed the widespread use of undercover
agents, as well as significant police surveillance of political activists,
including persons with no history of arrest, let alone criminal records.

Perhaps just as important as the formal verdict, was the fact that several
jurors, outside the courtroom, wished the defendants good luck. An
essentially middle-class jury was clearly sympathetic to Jonathan, Jaggi
and Christina, and the anti-G20 protesters, even after viewing police
video images of minor property destruction and rock-throwing after police
charged protesters with horses and riot police beat and pepper-sprayed
demonstrators. [During jury selection, the Crown systematically excluded
persons who might have critical views by virtue of their profession, such
as teachers and writers, as well as two working class black men. One
rejected juror, a college professor, even criticized the Crown's tactics
in an open letter to Montreal-area weekly papers.]

Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina wish to thank everyone who supported them,
both in court, and with their messages of solidarity. Your support was
essential and very meaningful. The verdict today is not just a victory for
the three defendants, but also a modest win for political organizing in
Montreal. The police and Crown tried to escalate their attacks on
street-level organizing by pursuing charges that may result in serious
jail time. For the time being, they have failed, at least in Montreal.
[The Crown lawyer did indicate she might pursue an appeal.]

Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina again offer their full support to John
Clarke, Gaetan Heroux and Stefan Pilipa of the Ontario Coalition Against
Poverty (OCAP) who are currently on trial in front a jury in Toronto for
their role at the June 2000 anti-poverty protest at Queen's Park. John is
facing up to five years in prison, and Gaetan and Stefan up to two, for
their alleged role as leaders at the protest. Their defense has recently
begun, and we wish them well. More info about the OCAP trial is available
at http://www.ocap.ca. John, Gaetan and Stefan are fighting a crucial and
landmark battle in the courts for all organizers and activists who
confront unjust policies against the poor and homeless.

Also, Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina offer their appreciation and
solidarity with communities and individuals who face systematic attacks by
the legal system by virtue of their day-to-day existence: indigenous
peoples, immigrant and refugee communities, the poor, street people, sex
workers and others. As well, we are more than aware that hundreds of
Montreal-area activists and organizers are still facing the courts for
various charges -- unlawful assembly, disturbing the peace, mischief, etc.
-- for their political efforts. This includes other G20 protesters who are
still facing lesser charges at municipal court, as well as anti-police
brutality demonstrators, Palestinian solidarity activists, squatters,
non-status persons, anti-poverty protesters and others. For information
about ongoing legal battles in Montreal, consult the Collective Opposed to
Police Brutality's "Judicial Calendar" at

There are many other court battles to fight. Jaggi, in particular, faces
four more trials this year, including a jury trial in Quebec City related
to the anti-FTAA protests in April 2001, as well as a trial in Montreal
for his role in protesting against Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Concordia
University (Jaggi, a non-student, has already been arbitrarily banned from
Concordia for five years by the university administration, with absolutely
no hearing or due process).

Thank you again to everyone for your support. To stay in touch about the
G20 Riot Trial, and other court matters in Montreal, just e-mail

In struggle and solidarity,
Jonathan, Jaggi and Christina
*[Ed. note: Anti authoritarians of direct action social struggle]

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