Ex-FLQ terrorist faces bail hearing on new bombing charges

A former terrorist jailed for bomb attacks during the FLQ crisis 30 years ago, was in court on Monday for a bail hearing. Ral Mathieu is accused of recent firebombings at three coffee shops in Quebec.

Mathieu's lawyer asked for a ban on the details of what went on in court. The judge agreed.

Mathieu, 53, faces eight charges, including intent to cause harm using an explosive and possession of prohibited and restricted weapons.

Montreal police believe Mathieu founded the French Self-Defence Brigade, which claimed responsibility for the Oct. 5 attacks on the Second Cup stores. The group had warned it would target businesses with English names, including Second Cup.

The companies said they would not be intimidated by the attacks, arguing that they have internationally recognized trademarks in English.

Detectives say they traced the group's e-mail threat with help from Microsoft.

Mathieu is a former member of the FLQ, or Front de libration du Quebec, a separatist terrorist group in the '60s and '70s.

In 1967, Mathieu pleaded guilty to several charges, including two counts of manslaughter. A woman died when a bomb went off at a strike-bound shoe factory and an FLQ member working with Mathieu was killed as he planted another bomb.

Mathieu served seven years of a nine-year sentence. He later received a pardon.

The FLQ sparked the October Crisis in 1970, when it kidnapped the British trade commissioner, James Cross, and later killed a Quebec cabinet minister, Pierre Laporte.

The Oct. 5 firebombings coincided with the 30th anniversary of Cross's kidnapping, but police say they don't believe the two events are linked.

Three restaurants, two retail stores and a church where an English-rights lobby group was scheduled to meet have all been attacked since December.