Villanueva inquest suspended again at courthouse
The problem-plagued coroner's inquest into the police shooting of a Montreal teenager was suspended indefinitely after the presiding judge expressed concerns that victims and their relatives can't afford lawyers.
Judge Robert Sansfacon said his inquest will not be credible unless victims and their families have access to legal aid. It's not clear when the public hearing into the death of Fredy Villanueva will resume at the Montreal courthouse.
The two police officers involved in the Aug. 2008 shooting are represented by lawyers, whereas other victims and direct witnesses are not. Sansfacon said he was prepared to hear police experts and others who worked the scene, but could not hear direct witnesses to the event without everyone having proper legal representation.
Francois Daviault, a lawyer representing the coroner, said there was no point in continuing.
"The corner decided that under the (law) he couldn't continue," Daviault told reporters outside t he courtroom. "Several of the interested parties who were directly involved in the incident weren't there. Given this fact, he couldn't proceed because it would have been unjust. He talked about procedural injustice."
The inquest got off to a rocky start Monday when nine of the 15 interested parties did not show up.
Lilian Villanueva confirmed that the family would not be participating in the process. Denis Meas, 18, and Jeffrey Sagor Metellus, 20 -- the two victims who were also wounded by gunshots on the night that Villanueva died -- have also pulled out of the inquest.
Villanueva, 18, was shot to death at a park in Montreal North last August, while Montreal police officers were attempting to arrest his older brother Dany.
The fatal shooting triggered rioting in which a police officer was shot in the leg, and it also highlighted deep division between police and youths in Montreal North.
The inquest was called after prosecutors said the officer responsible for shooting Villanueva would not be charged.
The prosecutors determined the officer had acted with justified force.