Friday, November 27, 2009
Crown drops criminal charges against student Marc Kelly - University loses face
The power of a public letter - again...
On October 19th 2009 the Student Appeal Centre (SAC) of the Student Federation University of Ottawa (SFUO) wrote a public LETTER to former federal Minister of Justice and now university president Allan Rock which in no uncertain terms instructed the University to back off. The SAC asked Rock to instruct University Legal Counsel to petition the Crown in favour of physics-mathematics student Marc Kelly.
The University had urged the Ottawa Police to arrest Kelly at a December 1st 2008 meeting of university Senate because some Senate members did not want to be video taped by Kelly. False charges were laid and the University cooperated with the Crown to prosecute the student to the fullest extent of its power.
An undertaking was imposed under duress that banned the registered student from campus. Breaches of the undertaking when the student participated in his study program and in campus activities (such as registering for courses) were monitored by campus police and sent to Ottawa Police to have the student further arrested and served with seven additional criminal charges. This was seen as a pressure tactic to intimidate Kelly to abandone his right to a trial of the Senate charges.
The SAC letter broke the standoff. The University Legal Counsel Alain Roussy had stated that it would be unethical for him to intervene on behalf of Kelly but it appears that he or his office did just that when instructed to do so by Rock.
As a result the Crown formally dropped the Senate charges today in court explaining, after 12 months of playing hard ball and many court appearances and legal fees, that "since it would take four days of trial to prove [its] case", it decided that "there is no public interest in maintaining the charges". Ahumm?
In addition, the Crown explained that, having been contacted by the University, it was prepared to offer that the seven additional criminal charges also be dropped in exchange for a Peace Bond in which Kelly would sign that he agrees to "keep the peace" for 12 months. Kelly responded that he wished the additional charges to be stayed by the court. Another court date was scheduled for two weeks later.
Also, the Crown immediately dropped the campus restrictions on Kelly who has been allowed back on campus since last Friday. The forcefully imposed undertakings are off.
Kelly has done nothing but keep the peace and be a responsible and politically engaged citizen. It is the University that called the Ottawa Police into its Senate to have Kelly cuffed and dragged off while the student's colleagues vehemently protested.
It's nice to see the University walk away with its tail between its legs in a case such as this one. But it is shameful that it can command this kind of cooperation from Police and Crown in its political repression.
SAC-SFUO letter to Rock
Math student between a Rock and a hard place
Call for the resignation of Nathalie Des Rosiers
Previous public letter result at U of O
University of Ottawa and the courts - political repression (CANWEST article)