A 20-year-old man from Eskasoni, N.S., is facing charges for allegedly throwing Molotov cocktails at RCMP during the shale gas protests in Rexton, N.B.

Aaron Francis has been held in custody since Oct. 17

Dozens of protesters were arrested last October when RCMP broke up a weeks-long protest against shale gas exploration on Route 134 in Rexton. The protesters were preventing SWN from accessing seismic-testing vehicles and equipment in its compound in the area.

The exploration company had obtained a court injunction ordering that it be allowed access to its vehicles and be allowed to carry out exploration work without harassment. 

The offences are alleged to have taken place on Oct. 17. RCMP say when they went to breakup the protests that day, Molotov cocktails were thrown at police and a number of RCMP vehicles were set on fire.

Francis is facing four charges, including:

  • Intent to do bodily harm by causing an explosive device to explode.
  • Placing or throwing at or on a person an explosive substance.
  • Possession of explosives while prohibited to do so.
  • Committing an offence while having his face masked.

“During the protests on Routes 134 and 11 the RCMP officers were threatened and also encountered dangerous situations involving firearms, improvised explosive devices and other weapons,” said Cst. Jullie Rogers-Marsh of the New Brunswick RCMP.

A Molotov cocktail is a homemade explosive device, usually made using a glass bottle filled with a flammable liquid that is set on fire by lighting a piece of cloth stuffed into the mouth of the bottle.

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, anyone found guilty of an offence involving explosives can face a sentence of up to life in prison.

Francis is next scheduled to appear in court March 17.