Anti-feminist blogger Jean-Claude Rochefort back in court for bail hearing
MONTREAL -- Anti-feminist blogger Jean-Claude Rochefort, 70, who is accused of inciting hatred towards women, was back in court Thursday for a bail hearing.
He insisted on taking the stand against strong words from both his lawyer and the judge.
“If we speak out against feminism, we go to jail,” he said, insisting he’s a prisoner of conscience as he offered up $200 to post bail.
"All my life, I was afraid of the feminist power, there is always this fear of the Quebec man to lose our jobs, our privileges," he told Quebec court Judge Serge Delisle.
Defence lawyer Marc-Olivier Carrier insisted the 70-year-old should get bail, and requested that he see a psychiatrist or psychologist. He argued Rochefort has no history of violence.
Prosecutors have opposed bail for the blogger, saying he glorified the gunman behind Montreal's 1989 École Polytechnique killings, calling it one of the worst examples in recent memory of inciting hatred.
"Quebec has a history here -- the population everywhere, 30 years later, is still troubled by the massacre at Polytechnique in 1989," Crown attorney Josiane Laplante told the court Thursday.
The judge responded that a psychiatric evaluation isn’t necessary.
“He knows what he’s doing. He has an ideology. A psychologist won’t change his mind,” the judge stated.
Rochefort was arrested by Montreal police at his home in Montreal's Hochelaga-Maisonneuve borough last Thursday – the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre.
Officers say during his arrest several incriminating computer files and equipment were seized.
In the past, Rochefort has written favourably about the Polytechnique shooter in a number of blogs, under several pseudonyms.
In one post, Rochefort refers to the killer as an "incel lord," a reference to the online subculture of "involuntarily celibate" men whose online discussions focus on anti-feminism, misogyny and endorsing sexual violence against women.
Rochefort said men should not live with women, that they should be "exiled" and that they should be "assassinated if they refuse." He referred to feminism as a "cancer," adding that "every woman is a potential enemy."
Carrier noted that detention is an exceptional measure in criminal law, and granting his client bail wouldn't suggest he was innocent.
"It doesn't mean he's being acquitted, it just means that he'll regain his freedom while awaiting trial," the defence lawyer said.
A decision on whether or not Rochefort will get bail is expected on Monday.
Rochefort insisted Thursday that his rights were violated when he was accused of similar charges in 2009, adding his family hasn't spoken to him since.
He was arrested for making death threats against women and glorifying the Polytechnique shooter, calling him a folk hero. He was sentenced to community service.
At the time, prosecutors wanted to charge him with incitement and wilful promotion of hatred, but the judge refused.
Rochefort made several rambling comments Thursday about being a political prisoner -- a reference to his having spent a year in preventative custody a decade ago before eventually being acquitted on similar accusations.
He told the court he still harboured anger with the justice system over that 2009 detention without trial, and that his rights to freedom of speech were being trampled again.
Lawyer concedes Rochefort made admission
Outside the courtroom, Carrier acknowledged his client's comments are an admission, and he expects the case will end up at trial.
"Often in a case like this, it will look at the nature of the crime and not whether he wrote the posts," Carrier said outside the courtroom.
The Crown told the court the complaint against Rochefort came from a professor at Université de Quebec à Montréal (UQAM).
Laplante said at the time of Rochefort's arrest, he told police he had "nothing left to lose."
Laplante opposed bail for Rochefort, citing a risk of recidivism given Rochefort's arrest in 2009 and his continued online writings, as well as the need to maintain the public's confidence in the justice system.
She added the court should consider that his writings might compel someone to act out.
"Mr. Rochefort uses the collective wound to spread a message to say, essentially, that (the Montreal Massacre) was a good thing," Laplante said.
An amendment to the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code extends protection against hate propaganda to any section of the public that is distinguished by sex, gender identity or gender expression.
-- with files fromThe Canadian Press.