Defendant in MUHC fraud trial denied request to have charges stayed
Lawyer sought stay for Yohann Elbaz, attributing delays to Crown's poor planning, disorganization
Yohann Elbaz's request to have his charges stayed in the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) fraud trial was rejected Monday.
Elbaz will have to stand trial in October 2018 after all, facing charges of conspiracy, recycling the proceeds of crime and using false documents.
Elbaz has been waiting for this trial for 55 months. His lawyer, Walid Hijazi, made the request for a stay of proceedings in November, citing the Jordan ruling.
That ruling, issued by the Supreme Court of Canada in July 2016, imposed new deadlines on the justice system to avoid unreasonable trial delays.
Provincial court trials must now be wrapped up within 18 months — up to 30 months, if there is a preliminary inquiry — and trials at the Superior Court face a 30-month deadline.
Complex case, Crown says
Hijazi had accused the prosecution of poor planning and disorganization and said his client had paid a personal and professional price due to the delays.
However, Crown prosecutor Nathalie Kléber argued the delays are justified, due to the "particular complexity" of this case.
Kléber noted the case involves bank transactions, intermediaries and foreign money transfers that resulted in thousands of pages of documents being admitted as evidence.
The Crown alleges top executives from SNC-Lavalin paid a $22.5-million bribe to MUHC senior administrators to secure the $1.3-billion contract to build the MUHC's Glen site.
- Former SNC-Lavalin execs in court in MUHC bribery case
- Who's who? McGill University hospital $22.5M bribery case
Elbaz is one of five men accused in the fraud trial, who were all arrested five years ago.
Elbaz is a lawyer by trade; his brother Yanaï Elbaz, also accused, is a former MUHC executive.
The other defendants in the case are former SNC-Lavalin executives, ex-CEO Pierre Duhaime, Riadh Ben Aissa and Stéphane Roy.
One police investigator called it "the biggest case of corruption fraud in Canadian history."
With files from Steve Rukavina and Radio-Canada