Montreal corruption trial delayed as judge works through defense motions
A long-awaited fraud trial connected to a controversial land deal in Montreal that helped spark years of investigations into corruption in Quebec’s construction industry will be delayed a little while longer.
The case stems from 2007 when Montreal sold a large plot of land in the city’s east end to a company, Construction F. Catania, which planned on building 1,800 condo units on the site.
Authorities allege municipal officials gave privileged information to the company and sold the land significantly below its market value.
In exchange, those accused allegedly received financial kickbacks and other gifts.
A trial before judge alone was expected to begin Monday.
Instead, Quebec court Judge Yvan Poulin was inundated with series of pre-trial motions that will take several days to deal with.
One defence lawyer said she received a very late disclosure of evidence that only came to her attention last week.
Another defence lawyer, who tried unsuccessfully to get Poulin thrown out as the trial judge, said he intends to appeal.
In 2012, nine people were charged in the case including the city’s former No. 2 politician, Frank Zampino.
Zampino was the chair then-mayor Gerald Tremblay’s executive committee, which is the municipal equivalent of a government cabinet.
Also arrested were construction company executive Paolo Catania and municipal party fundraiser Bernard Trepanier as well as four others who were employees of Catania’s construction company.
One of the accused, Martial Fillion, a former chief of staff to ex-mayor Tremblay, has since passed away.
The trial is expected to last three months and the Crown intends to call about sixty witnesses.
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