Former Laval mayor Vaillancourt's trial still one year away
Published Wednesday, April 30, 2014 2:37PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, September 10, 2014 3:06PM EDT
An epic upcoming court case involving the former longtime mayor of Laval and 35 others remains far on the horizon after the 34 lawyers who convened at Laval court Wednesday failed to find a way to be simultaneously available before next April.
As a result, the next proceedings in the trial of Gilles Vaillancourt, the mayor who for 23 years cast a large shadow over the city of Laval, as well as construction mogul Tony Accurso, and the others, will take place in April 2015, while the actual trial might only take place in 2016.
“Incredible that we today, with 30 lawyers in the space of 20 minutes, thanks to another attorney who had prepared a program for everyone's agenda, we were able to find two months where all the lawyers were available,” said defence attorney Philippe Schneider.
Vaillancourt quit as mayor on November 9, 2012 and was arrested at his home on May 9, 2013 on charges of gangsterism, fraud and breach of trust.
Not only is the delay long, the evidence is also weighty in a very literal sense, as one lawyer told CTV Montreal.
“There are mountains of evidence,” said Schneider. “The CDs stack up three inches thick. Translated into paper, that’s thousands of pages. I have a feeling my filing cabinet will be just one file for the next few months. “
Vaillancourt and former high-ranking Laval administrators Claude Asselin et Claude Déguise are expected to fight the charges of gangsterism with particular intensity as someone convicted of that crime cannot apply for parole until at least half of the sentence is served.
Judge Francois Landry had hoped to proceed in January but the lawyers were not all able to convene at that time and Accurso might also still be facing fraud charges in a separate case at that time. Eight weeks have been put aside for the preliminary inquiry next April and May.
Vaillancourt and almost all other defendants were at the courthouse Wednesday. The former mayor had been given special permission to spend time in Florida while awaiting trial.
Originally, 37 were expected to face trial but one of the defendants has since died.