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$ummit of the Americas: Francois Van Vliet sentenced (at last)!

Anonymous, Wednesday, 03/03/2004 - 16:48

On march 2nd 2004, at the Quebec City Palais of Political Justice, judge
Richard Grenier gave his sentence to Francois Van Vliet that was found
guilty of taking part in a riot on April 20th, 2001 during the $ummit of
the Americas: 2 years of probation, during which he will have to “keep the
peace” and “have a good conduct”, as well as 150 hours of community work
to do in 18 months.

Francois had asked for an absolution (to avoid having a criminal record)
and agreed to do community work (instead of jail time) and asked that the
judge doesn’t impose any restriction to his freedom of _expression. The
“offender” had reminded the court that he wasn’t accused of any violent
act and that he had no previous record. He also told the judge that the
Charter protected the freedom of opinion, even if those opinions were
opposed to the dominant ideology, and the freedom of peaceful protest, and
he added that it was not a crime to be an activist.

On his side, the Crown Prosecutor Marc-Denis Quintin presented new
evidence: a letter from the probation agent, Lyne-Renee Faucher, addressed
to the judge and in which she included a text published on the CMAQ
(Quebec Alternative Media Center) and in which some parts of the
pre-sentential report are quoted. She states that “the subject is trying
to prove to the population that he will be condemned mostly because of his
political opinions” and that he “had encouraged the population to come in
great numbers to his February 13th, 2004 hearing and that, by solidarity”.
For her, this text proves that Francois has “lacked transparency by
saying, in the initial interview, that he had stopped publishing texts
with a political connotation” and the fact that he invites people to
support him in court “does not mean there will be tumult, but gives a more
exhaustive idea of the offender’s personality.” This text is from a
previous e-mail written by Francois but that was posted on CMAQ by someone
else who wanted to help… This episode is not the first time that militant
web sites or even e-mail lists are used in political trials. Anyhow, it
proves ounce more that the political police subscribes to alternative
media and militant e-mail lists, so it tells us that we need to be careful
what we send on these lists, especially when it concerns ongoing trials.

Anyways, the crown prosecutor wasn’t scoring any goals by trying to
explain that he wasn’t going after Francois for his political ideas and at
the same time quoting from the e-mail and insisting on his links with a
group like the Anti-Capitalist Convergence (CLAC)… Quintin said that the
crime to be punished was the participation to a riot and that is why he
was asking for four months in prison. He wanted to denounce Francois’
“double tongue” because in court he accepts community work and outside he
denouces political repression. He wanted to show a video from the media
that was filmed after the verdict and in which Francois states that he
doesn’t recognize the legitimacy of the judicial system, but the judge
said that he had already seen that while “zapping” in front of his TV…

The judge was also on the defensive and he repeated a couple of times that
he didn’t agree with Francois’ ideas, but that we were in a democracy so
he had the right to think what he wants. But he also repeated that he
didn’t want Francois to preach his ideas to the youth while doing
community work. He said that he didn’t want Francois to work with “the
trotskist at UQAM” and he suggested Les P’tits Freres des Pauvres… The
judge asked Francois if he wanted to end like Nelson Mandela who was
imprisoned in South Africa for his fight against the Apartheid, and who
later became “a great political man”, but Francois replied that he didn’t
want to spend 20 years behind bars.

Finally, Francois stated the abuses that he lived since his arrest: 4 days
of pre-emptive detention at Orsainville Prison to prevent him from
protesting, 9h in a bus with the hands tight behind the back without
water, 17h without food, having to undress for a search in front of women,
not having shoes for the first night, having his picture and fingerprints
taken, as well as his weight and height measured, a SQ detective broke his
camera, he was intimidated in Orsainville by a plainclothes officer and by
a SQ anti-riot cop who said that he had the right to break his arms… And
also the weight of the judicial process: almost 3 years of proceedings,
many trips from Montreal to Quebec and back to Montreal, the stress and
problems at work, having to miss days of school and work, the fact that
the police still has his soccer ball… And when Francois said that he had
to come for nothing on February 13th, the judge seemed embarrassed and he
said : “Uh… yes, you know, judges sometimes have other assignments…”

The verdict was taken into appeal and there will be a meeting on march
16th in Quebec about that. So it is ounce again to be followed... Francois
now has 10 days to meet with his probation agent who will decide with
which group he can do his forced community work in a matter where his
dangerous ideas don’t put the youth at risk of being contaminated. It
seems that radical ideas are tolerated in a democracy as long as they stay
in your head!

Submitted by Anonyme