Quebec man, 38, facing charges of inciting hate against minorities
Published Tuesday, January 7, 2020 1:13PM EST Last Updated Tuesday, January 7, 2020 5:19PM EST
GRANBY -- A 38-year-old man from Granby, about 85 kilometres southeast of Montreal, is facing two counts of publicly inciting hatred and one count of advocating genocide.
Valentin Auclair was arraigned in court Tuesday afternoon. A legal aid lawyer represented Auclair, who was sobbing in the courtroom.
At the Crown's request, the judge ordered a six-day psychiatric evaluation.
The charges relate to communications between July 30 and Aug. 10, 2019 and between Nov. 4, 2019 and Jan. 5, 2020.
"We had information that was important for us to send this individual to see a doctor, to see if he was able to understand," said Crown prosecutor Cassandre Hamel. "There were some terms that he used that we were questioning ourselves if he was understanding everything."
Granby police said they were tipped off Sunday by a person who spotted the accused's posts on Russian social media site VK, which allegedly included images promoting Aryan white supremacy and hateful comments about Jews, Muslims, the LGBTQ community and other minority groups. He also allegedly sympathized with neo-Nazis and applauded several mass killers, including the men behind the Quebec City mosque attack and the Montreal Polytechnique massacre.
Quebec philosophy teacher Xavier Camus, who has previously written about the far right, came across Auclair's posts on a Russian social media site similar to Facebook and wrote about them on his blog.
Police say they opened an investigation Sunday after they received the tip, and arrested the man at his home early Monday evening. He met with investigators Monday night.
The accused faces at least one charge of hate speech.
Threats on social media are the same as if they were uttered in person, said Granby police spokesperson Caroline Garand.
Granby police said Auclair is not known to police and the investigation is ongoing.
Auclair is expected back in court on Jan. 13.
David Ouellette, research and public affairs director for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Quebec, said the centre contacted authorities on Monday after seeing academic Xavier Camus' blog post denouncing the online hatred.
Ouellette said he personally reviewed the VK publications and was "really taken aback by the breadth and scope and sheer intensity of his hatred of Jews, Arabs, Muslims, Latino, blacks, you name it."
He said the writing is particularly troubling in the current international context of violent anti-Semitic attacks. "This is the kind of threatening language that should be taken very seriously," he said.
The charge of advocating genocide carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while the maximum for inciting hatred is two years.
- With files from The Canadian Press