Jury deliberating in special-effects obscenity case
Rémy Couture charged with corrupting morals over graphic online images
The jury will continue its deliberations on Saturday in the obscenity case against a Montreal special-effects artist, to determine if his work constitutes a criminal act.
Rémy Couture is charged with corrupting morals through the distribution, possession and production of obscene materials in a case that explores the boundaries of artistic expression and Canadian obscenity laws.
During the two-week trial in a Montreal courthouse, the prosecution argued the images on Couture's website were a threat to the fundamental values of Canadian society.
The jury began its deliberations on Friday, and was not heard from for most of the day. At one point jurors requested copies of the obscenity sections of the criminal code, suggesting that some of them still had questions about what the law says.
Obscene publication under the Canadian Criminal Code
Any publication a dominant characteristic of which is the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime, horror, cruelty and violence, shall be deemed to be obscene.
His defence lawyer argued that they constitute an artistic endeavor and are not obscene.
The judge in the case instructed the jury Friday morning to considered several issues in the case.
First, the jurors have to determine if the images created by the special-effects artist are intolerable and then determine if they are obscene, under the definition laid out in the Criminal code.
If they find the images are both intolerable and obscene, then they must consider if they have artistic merit.
If the jury does answer yes to that last question, they will have accepted the defence's argument, and Couture will be found not guilty.
Couture was charged in 2009 after a man from Austria stumbled upon his website and alerted authorities.
One of the films showed a muscular, tattooed man in a mask, appearing to eat a victim's intestines. In another, a barely dressed, blood-drenched woman was strapped to a bed with a large crucifix lying across her.
A pathologist working for Interpol in Austria who examined the images said he could not rule out the possibility that they depicted an actual murder or rape.
But Canadian authorities testified before the court that they were certain the images were fake.
Couture, who pleaded not guilty to the charges in 2010, said the images and video were staged scenes.
Similar cases centred on the line between artistic expression and moral corruption have tested Canada's obscenity legislation against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms at the Supreme Court level.
In one landmark case almost 20 years ago, the court decided Canada's obscenity laws were an infringement of the charter, but a reasonable one.
with files from Canadian Press