Protesters call for justice reforms ahead of child-killer’s possible release
Tristin Hopper Aug 7, 2011 – 2:37 PM ET | Last Updated: Aug 7, 2011 2:39 PM ET
http://news.nationalpost.com/2011/08/07 ... e-release/
Protesters gather on Saturday outside Montreal's Palais de Justice to protest the verdict in the Guy Turcotte murder trial. The Montreal demonstration was one of 14 similar protests across Quebec.
As a mental health tribunal decides whether to set child murderer Guy Turcotte free, hundreds of protesters gathered in 14 Quebec cities on Saturday calling for an overhaul of the justice system.
“We don’t put life as a major value in our society,” said Isabelle Gaston, ex-wife to Turcotte and mother of the two murdered children, speaking at a protest in Montreal. “At a certain level we forgot my son and my daughter in this process.”
In February, 2009, Turcotte, a cardiologist, stabbed his two young children, Anne-Sophie, 3, and Oliver, 5, 46 times while they were lying in their beds. Turcotte admitted to the killings, but in a subsequent murder trial he claimed he could not recall carrying them out.
Turcotte’s lawyers argued he has been rendered temporarily insane over the recent breakup of his marriage with Ms. Gaston. “If you only knew what she’s put me through,” Turcotte told colleague Guylaine Paquin only hours after the murders.
In a July 5 verdict, a jury found he was “not criminally responsible” for his actions. On Friday, Turcotte will face a five-person mental health tribunal to determine whether he should be released, or whether he should be detained for another year.
“I don’t believe that he had a psychiatric illness that is that bad that he lost his judgment,” said Ms. Gaston, adding that she expects to be “disappointed” by the tribunal’s decision.
Student protests are a common sight on the streets of Montreal, but Saturday’s protests were populated largely by elderly men and women and parents pushing strollers.
Protesters wore shirts carrying the images of the two murdered children and held signs reading “Render criminals responsible for their actions!” and “Solidarity for Anne-Sophie and Oliver.”
Demonstrators called for stricter guidelines for “not criminally responsible” verdicts. Others called for an end to jury trials altogether, at least in cases where complex psychiatric evidence was involved.
“We have to think about the rights of victims too because criminals have rights but victims, they don’t really have rights,” said Sylvie Provost, an organizer of the Montreal protest.
Saturday’s demonstrations were spurred by “Against the Verdict of the Guy Turcotte trial,” a Facebook page launched by a pair of Quebec teens. As of Sunday afternoon, 27,000 people had joined the group.
Crown prosecutors are seeking a retrial for Turcotte, arguing that the judge erred in law in his instructions to the jury.
National Post, with files from Postmedia