Half of accused in Laval corruption bust want their charges thrown out
Accused are invoking a recent Supreme Court ruling that sets limits on trial delays
More than a dozen people arrested in connection with the same police operation that brought down former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt are trying to have their charges thrown out, citing delays in the justice system.
Vaillancourt was arrested in spring 2013 as part of a sweep by the province's anti-corruption unit, known as UPAC. He pleaded guilty to several charges earlier this month.
- Quebec court delays lead to cases against alleged criminals being dropped
- 'Dire situation': Senators seek guidance for top court ruling on trial deadlines
Along with the mayor, 33 others were charged for allegedly taking part in a system of corruption in the awarding of public contracts by the City of Laval between 1996 and 2010.
According to Radio-Canada, at least 14 of the 33 are seeking a stay in proceedings, invoking a recent Supreme Court ruling that limits the amount of time the accused can can wait to stand trial.
The R. v. Jordan ruling imposed a deadline of 18 months for provincial court cases, and 30 months for Superior Court, in order to uphold the accused's Charter right to a trial without unreasonable delays.
Two separate trials
Those arrested in the Laval operation are accused of conspiracy, fraud and corruption in municipal affairs. If their cases go to trial, they'll be heard in Quebec Superior Court.
The Crown has asked the judge to divide the group and hold two separate trials: one for elected officials, civil servants and engineers, and the other for contractors.
Since the Jordan ruling, Quebec courts have received dozens of applications to have cases thrown out because of lengthy delays.
The Quebec government has promised to reinvest up to $200 million in the province's justice system over the next four years to deal with the backlog of cases.