One of Quebec's largest biker gang mega-trials came to a sudden and unexpected end on Thursday.
Nine of 12 accused pleaded guilty to gangsterism, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder. In return, the Crown agreed to drop murder charges against the nine.
The trial had been going on for the past 11 months.
The three remaining accused, Pierre Laurin, Gregory Wooley and Jean-Richard Lariviere will face new murder trials.
The Crown says the case against them includes DNA evidence.
Lariviere's lawyer says another trial is better than going through with a mega-trial. "My client is very happy," said defence lawyer Martin Tremblay. "He'll be able to defend himself alone."
It is the first mega-trial to end following the biggest police operation in Canadian history. More than 40 alleged members of the Hells Angels went on trial following their arrest in the spring of 2001.
Quebec Justice Minister Marc Bellemare had just one comment. "It's a great day for justice in Quebec," he said.
But questions remain about the mega-trial process; the cost of building a new court house, as well as the cost and length of the trial.
Some argue that the guilty pleas confirm that the mega-trial did exactly what it was supposed to. "The strategy with the mega-trial was to put pressure on everyone, on the system, on the accused, and also put pressure on the public opinion and the jurors and create this big thing," said criminal lawyer Sophie Bourque.
As for the Hells Angels operations in Quebec, four of those who pleaded guilty are high ranking members of the organization. Some say it will have a damaging effect on the organization.
"It's a big coup. Now they are under the supervision and they don't have enough members to do their thing," said Guy Ouellette, former Surete du Quebec officer.
Sentencing for the nine men who entered guilty pleas will take place later this month. Not long after, the remaining three accused go before a judge to set a date for their new murder trial.