Montreal

Concordia killer turns to faint hope clause in bid to leave jail

Convicted of murdering four professors in 1992, Valery Fabrikant wants a special hearing to ask for early parole.

Former Concordia University professor and convicted murderer Valery Fabrikant is using the Criminal Code's faint-hope clause to seek early parole.

Fabrikant was in court via teleconference on Thursday to ask for parole from his life sentence for murdering four Concordia colleagues in 1992.

Quebec Superior Court Judge James Brunton said he would review Fabrikant's request for a hearing by jury, which would determine whether he's eligible for parole.

Fabrikant was sentenced to life in jail in 1993 after he ambushed his workplace at Concordia and shot dead four fellow mechanical engineering professors.

The former professor has served 15 years of his sentence, making him eligible under the faint-hope clause, which allows convicted felons to apply for an early parole hearing.

The clause requires a superior court judge to review the parole hearing request and determine whether the case has merit and should be heard by a jury. The jury then decides whether the request is valid and should be transferred to the national parole board, which makes a final decision about early release.

If a jury rules against the faint-hope request, the procedure ends. Normal parole for a life sentence is after 25 years.

Fabrikant contested the faint-hope clause process during his Thursday hearing, asking to appear directly in front of a jury.

Judge Brunton said he would examine the objection at an appropriate time and place.

To obtain early parole, Fabrikant has to demonstrate that he is sufficiently rehabilitated to reintegrate into society. 

Concordia University said it will oppose any early release granted to its former employee, who will return to court April 3.

The 67-year-old was last in court in November to pursue a civil suit in which he's suing some former colleagues for $600,000 in damages for extortion.

Fabrikant was belligerent throughout those hearings and annoyed the sitting Quebec Superior Court judge with rambling motions, including one that protested the size of his table.

Judge Gilles Hébert eventually recused himself from the case, saying he had lost any objectivity toward the former professor, whom he described as "aggressive", "cynical" and "denigrating."

The civil case is still pending until a new judge is appointed.