Villanueva inquiry to go ahead in the fall: report
The coroner's inquest into the death of 18-year-old Fredy Villanueva will proceed in October, following concessions made by the Quebec government that have satisfied the family.
Villanueva was fatally shot and two other men -- Denis Meas, 18, and Jeffrey Sagor Metellus, 20 -- were wounded by Montreal police during a melee at a park in Montreal North in August 2008.
Alain Arsenault, one of the lawyers representing the Villanueva family and the two surviving victims, confirmed to French newspaper Le Devoir that the province will cover their legal fees during the coroner's inquest.
In May, the Villanueva family and a number of community groups announced they would not fully participate in the inquest unless the Quebec government paid for their lawyers.
They were upset because they did not have adequate legal representation, while police officers involved in the inquest were to be represented to a team of high-priced lawyers, paid for by the city of Montreal.
"I ask myself what the public will think when they will see that the police forces are so well represented by top lawyers, but that three others aren't here because they can't afford to be represented," Francois Daviault, lawyer for the Quebec coroner's office, said at the time.
"The most interested parties must have access to a lawyer," he added.
The family had also demanded that the inquest be broadened, in order to address issues of racial profiling and the underrepresentation of blacks in the judicial system.
In light of the controversy surrounding the inquest, presiding coroner Judge Robert Sansfacon, decided to suspend the process temporarily.
Explaining the decision to reporters, Daviault said: "He couldn't proceed because it would have been unjust. He (Sansfacon) talked about procedural injustice."
Concessions after negotiations
Following negotiations, the Public Security Ministry agreed not only to pay the lawyers' fees for the family and important witnesses, but also to widen the scope of the inquest, to address broader social concerns.
But Sansfacon insisted that his priority was to determine the circumstances surrounding Villanueva's death, before studying the other issues.
With files from The Canadian Press