Bikers could face massive murder trial
In what could become the largest murder trial in Canada's legal history, the prosecution in a Hells Angels case stunned the courtroom when it announced it was willing to try as many as 60 of the 100 suspects at once.
All 100 are collectively accused of the deaths of 22 people during the so-called "biker war" of the 1990s. A police raid last spring effectively shut down the Hells Angels in Quebec.
Some 130 members of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang appeared in court Monday to set trial dates for various drug and murder charges.
The murder case could prove groundbreaking.
"The courtroom can have 60 people at a time, so it's feasible," said prosecutor Madeleine Giauque.
Justice Andre Vincent told lawyers he would give them until April 23 to coordinate their efforts. If the trial is held with 60 defendants, it would likely take a year to prepare, and another year and a half to hear the case before a jury.
Defence lawyers say trying 60 suspects at once is unrealistic.
"I'm anxious about when my clients would have their trials," said defence attorney Claude F. Archambeault.
"The length of the trial would be unimaginable," added veteran criminal lawyer Claude Girouard.
In the last biker-gang-related mega-trial, 17 accused were tried at once before a jury. The mega-trial began in 2002 and was halted that year, but concluded in 2004 with nine members of Hells Angels and another biker gang convicted of 26 counts of gangsterism, drug trafficking and conspiracy to commit murder.