Judge accuses Kenora police of suppressing evidence

Kenora police will be investigated after a judge ruled officers willfully mishandled the investigation into the death of a native man.

The Ontario Provincial Police force is to investigate allegations that some Kenora police officers suppressed and fabricated evidence in a manslaughter case.

Last month, Ontario Superior Court Justice Peter Hambly ordered a stay of the judicial proceedings against Justin Carambetsos, a Kenora man charged with manslaughter in connection with the death four years ago of Max Kakegamic.

But the reasons for his decision were not revealed until Friday, when the Crown confirmed it would not appeal and a publication ban was lifted.

Officers on the Kenora police force's criminal investigations unit ignored evidence pointing toward another possible suspect in Kakegamic's death, instead focusing solely on Carambetsos, according to the judge.

More than one suspect

He concluded that police also manufactured evidence to eliminate a second man as a suspect. The judge said he couldn't let the Crown prosecute Carambetsos on the basis of evidence a jury could not trust.

According Hambly's ruling: "What they [the officers] did was to use the power of the state to gather evidence to support their conclusion that Justin Carambetsos was guilty. Not only did they do that, they used the power of the state to suppress evidence which supported the accused's innocence."

A relieved Carambetsos, 28, said: "I'm sure it'll be something that I will remember forever. How do you forget losing the better part of your twenties?"

George Curtis, Kenora police chief, has assigned two police officers to administrative duties, pending the outcome of the investigation.

The other possible suspect is the nephew of one of the investigating officers.

Kakegamic, a man from Fort Hope in northern Ontario, was found dead on a sidewalk close to Carambetsos's apartment in Kenora on Oct. 4, 2000. He appeared to have been beaten to death.