The question of when the Contrecoeur trial will finally hear from its first witness nearly a year after it began might be answered on Monday — or not.
Linda Gyulai, Montreal Gazette
A hearing has been set for that day so the defence can inform Quebec Court Judge Yvan Poulin, who is overseeing the municipal fraud trial, whether or not it intends to pursue two new motions for disclosure of evidence that it filed after learning this week that police intercepted conversations between some of the lawyers and their accused clients during a wiretap operation in a separate probe in 2015 while the Contrecoeur case was wending its way to trial.
The wiretap was authorized for an investigation dubbed “Fronde” that is apparently ongoing and that among other things concerns Montreal’s cancelled $356million water management contract.
Crown prosecutor Marlène Archer told the court on Friday that four men charged in the Contrecoeur case were the object of wiretaps in Fronde. They are businessman Paolo Catania, who ran Construction Frank Catania et Associés Inc., Pascal Patrice, a former employee of the firm, former municipal fundraiser Bernard Trépanier and the former No. 2 politician at Montreal city hall, Frank Zampino.
Archer said the Crown would unseal the warrant to answer the defence’s questions about what instructions were given to ensure the police didn’t violate lawyer client privilege and would hand over to the defence details concerning intercepted communications and documents the police used to obtain the wiretap warrant.
Two of the intercepted calls that were submitted to a judge to decide if they fall under lawyer client privilege were listened to in their entirety by Sûreté du Québec personnel who staffed the wiretap room, Archer said. The Crown said earlier this week that staff would stop listening in on a call as soon as a lawyer was identified as one of the parties and the tape would be sent under seal to a judge.
The Contrecoeur trial began on Feb. 8, 2016, but has yet to hear any evidence as it has dealt with a series of motions and the illness of one of the accused. The trial was expected to begin in earnest this week before the wiretapping involving lawyers was revealed.
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