Former SNC-Lavalin exec, accused in Libyan bribery case, has obstruction of justice charge stayed

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Sami Bebawi, a former SNC Lavalin executive, has had an obstruction of justice charge stayed because it took too long for his case to get to trial.

Quebec Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer handed down the decision Friday, citing unreasonable delays.

Cournoyer invoked the Jordan decision, a 2016 Supreme Court of Canada ruling which sets out timelines to deal with criminal matters.

He said the case was dormant for 11 months, calling it a « ship without a captain. »

Bebawi is accused of laundering $33 million between 2001 and 2012 in connection with contracts SNC-Lavalin negotiated with the former regime of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

He still faces charges of fraud, extortion, bribing a foreign official, possession of the proceeds of crime, and money laundering.

A request to have those charges stayed was rejected.

The Crown said it would take time to decide whether to appeal the decision. Bebawi declined to comment.

The decision comes amid a firestorm in Ottawa involving the engineering firm.

Jody Wilson-Raybould resigned as veterans affairs minister earlier this week — just days after a Globe and Mail report alleging that, as attorney general, she was pressured to order the director of public prosecutions to draft a « deferred prosecution agreement » to avoid taking SNC-Lavalin to trial on bribery and fraud charges in relation to its Libyan contracts.

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Woman, 19, accused of throwing a chair off downtown Toronto balcony, turns herself in

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A 19-year-old woman has turned herself in to police, four days after a widely viewed video showed a chair being tossed off a downtown Toronto highrise balcony, sparking huge outrage.

Marcella Zoia, a Toronto resident, walked in to 52 Division around 7 a.m. this morning. She has been charged with mischief endangering life, mischief involving damage to property and common nuisance.

Det. Todd Higo said Zoia was alone when she turned herself in.

She is scheduled to appear in College Park court today in room 505.

Police said in a news release that they started an investigation into the incident that happened 10 a.m. Saturday in the Harbour St and York St. area.

A video of the incident, which was widely shared online, shows a young woman picking up a folding chair and tossing it over the railing hundreds of feet in the air.

The video follows the chair as it hurtles towards the busy Gardiner Expressway and ends just before it hits the ground. Police later said a second chair and other items were tossed as well.

Const. David Hopkinson on Wednesday said detectives are investigating whether the apartment unit was being rented as a short-term rental.

In a short statement, Airbnb spokesperson Ben Brait said the company is investigating whether any of its users were involved in the incident.

“We are outraged by the blatant disregard for community safety on display in the video,” he said.

“We will be suspending any guest accounts that appear to be connected to this incident. Additionally, we have reached out proactively to Toronto police to offer our full support to help them investigate this abhorrent behaviour.”

Ajax woman Tyler Walton told the Star she believed she rented the same unit Saturday night, the same day as the chair-throwing incident, through AirBnB.

She said she saw the broken chairs on the street in front of the condo tower’s Lake Shore Blvd. W. entrance and later noticed the unit did not have the balcony set shown in the online listing. She said she didn’t put two and two together until she saw the video.

“I saw the chairs outside on the street and joked to my boyfriend that they looked like they were thrown,” she said. “He didn’t think anyone was dumb enough to do that.”

The online listing for the unit — Walton said it’s a south-facing apartment on the 45th floor — includes pictures of a patio set that appear to match the chairs in the video.

Walton said she asked the AirBnB host if the unit should have had a balcony set, and was told yes.

Walton said the AirBnB host told her to arrive later than the regular check-in time because the previous guests had left it “a disaster.”

Read more:

Toronto police investigating ‘reckless’ video of woman throwing chair from downtown highrise

Opinion | Emma Teitel: Toronto’s chair thrower is a symptom of a bigger problem

Condo-heavy areas at high risk for fires started by careless smokers

Fairbnb researcher and spokesperson Thorben Wieditz said it’s not unusual to hear residents in downtown highrises in the area complain about problems caused short-term rentals.

“It’s very common for partiers and Airbnb guests to throw stuff off the condos. What we haven’t seen yet is something like those two chairs that could have very well caused death,” he said, noting the group is “desperately” waiting for the city’s regulations on short-term rentals to come into effect.

Hopkinson said Monday that he was “outraged” at the incident.

“Anybody could’ve been walking underneath,” he said, adding if someone was hit, they could have suffered “catastrophic” injuries.

A conviction for mischief endangering life could result in jail time, Hopkinson told the Star earlier.

With files from Gilbert Ngabo

Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauen

Alexandra Jones is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @AlexandraMaeJ

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Trial of pair accused in Starbucks homicide begins

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The trial of Lawrence Sharpe, 40, and Oldouz Pournouruz, 35, is underway in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. 

The two are each facing a count of manslaughter in the death of Michael Page-Vincelli. They have both pleaded not guilty.

According to witnesses, a woman tossed a cigarette butt out her car window on July 12, 2017, while near the Starbucks in the 6500 block of Hastings Street in Burnaby. Page-Vincelli picked it up and threw it back at her.

According to a witness, the fight started when a woman tossed a cigarette butt out of the window of her car and Page-Vincelli threw it back at her. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

There was an argument and the woman, allegedly Pournouruz, went into a nearby bank and came out with her partner, Sharpe, and the pair followed Page-Vincelli into the Starbucks.

According to witnesses inside the coffee shop, Page-Vincelli was punched and fell, hitting his head on the counter. He was taken to hospital but died three days later from his injuries.

In outlining the case, Crown counsel said the jury would hear from witnesses of the fatal punch, witnesses of the confrontation in the parking lot and experts.

The trial is expected to last 19 days.

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Man accused of shooting Manitoba RCMP officer pleads guilty to attempted murder

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The man accused of shooting an RCMP officer during series of break-and-enters in western Manitoba has pleaded guilty.

Therae Racette-Beaulieu was charged last August with two counts of attempted murder as well as two counts of break and enter, possession of property obtained by crime and weapons-related offences.

He entered guilty pleas to one count of attempted murder, as well as to breaking and entering, stealing firearms and theft of a motor vehicle in Brandon provincial court on Thursday morning. He was 18 years old at the time of his arrest.

Cpl. Graeme Kingdon was shot near Onanole, Man., a town about 220 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, just south of Riding Mountain National Park, on Aug. 29, 2018. RCMP said Kingdon and another constable had arrived at a report of a break-in at a rural property near Onanole at about 9:30 p.m. when shots were fired.

Kingdon suffered a fractured skull in the shooting, while the other officer was not injured physically.

The shooting sparked a massive manhunt that ended the next afternoon in Neepawa, Man.

Three other men from Portage la Prairie — Tommy Edward Beaulieu, 21, Shane Donovan Beaulieu, 30, and Delaney Marcus Houle, 23 — were also charged in alongside Racette-Beaulieu with two counts each of breaking and entering, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and weapons-related offences.

Houle and Shane Beaulieu were previously granted bail, while Tommy Beaulieu was denied bail and remains in custody. All three have yet to enter pleas and are due in court again in February.

Racette-Beaulieu has been in custody since he was arrested in August. He has no prior convictions in adult court in Manitoba

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March.

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‘It was hell’: Woman’s co-worker accused of repeatedly tainting her water bottle with Lysol

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Toronto police have charged a 28-year-old woman for allegedly tainting a co-worker’s water bottle with a noxious substance at a downtown department store. 

Matsa Beliashvili said she likes to drink water from a glass canteen while working at the Hudson’s Bay on Yonge Street. The 33-year-old is a business manager at the Estée Lauder counter inside the store. 

In September of last year, she began noticing that an unusual number of bubbles were forming inside her bottle when she tried to fill it up. Beliashvili considered it odd, but didn’t think about it too much.

Over the next several months, however, she started to experience bouts of nausea, headaches and skin irritations, she said. In some instances, she had to take days off work because she felt so ill.

« It was hell what I went through, » she told CBC Toronto on Friday. 

This month, she started to suspect that perhaps the symptoms were connected to her water bottle, after noticing an odd odour whenever she took a sip. So on Jan. 8, on the advice of a colleague, Beliashvili replaced her water container with a brand new one.

Her ailments continued, despite the new purchase.

« That’s when I knew 100 per cent that something was wrong, » Beliashvili said. 

Based on a hunch about what might have been going on, Beliashvili left her water container out in the open when she went home on Jan. 19. She asked security to review any footage of the counter where she keeps her personal belongings between the time she left and when she returned to work the next day. 

According to Beliashvili, the video showed her 28-year-old colleague intentionally putting a household cleaning product into her canteen.

« They actually caught her in action on camera, spraying Lysol in my water bottle, » Beliashvili said.

She admitted, however, that security officials did not permit her to view the tape herself. 

Security officers at the Hudson’s Bay store where Matsa Beliashvili worked allegedly have video footage of the accused spraying Lysol into Beliashvili’s water bottle. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

‘I’m just glad it’s over’

Beliashvili was shocked because she had thought she and her colleague had a « normal relationship » that was both professional and friendly. 

« We had to work on a daily basis together, five days a week, » Beliashvili said. « It’s really hard to believe and it’s very heartbreaking. I’m really heartbroken. »

Security at Hudson’s Bay contacted police, who reviewed the footage and arrested the accused on Monday. She has been charged with one count of administering a noxious substance with intent to cause bodily harm and one count of mischief to interfere with property. 

The accused already appeared in court once, with a second hearing scheduled for Feb. 27. 

Beliashvili said the experience has been deeply traumatic for her. She’s not certain whether she will return to work at the same location. What hurts most, she said, is that her accused co-worker knew Beliashvili is the mother of a young child.

« I could never imagine that someone would be full of hate to this extent. It’s shocking, » Beliashvili said.

« Now I’m just glad it’s over. »

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Canadian accused of smuggling ‘enormous amount of drugs’ into China: state media – National

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A Canadian citizen is set to be tried on drug charges in the Chinese port city of Dalian, Chinese state media reported amid already-heightened tensions between Beijing and Ottawa.

Global Times, a tabloid operated by the Communist Party of China, identified the suspect as Robert Lloyd Schellenberg.

Schellenberg was scheduled for an appeal hearing for Saturday, Dec. 29 after he was earlier found to have smuggled “an enormous amount of drugs” into China, according to Dalian.runsky.com, a news portal operated by Dalian authorities.

READ MORE: China won’t stop flood of fentanyl into Canada, sources say

The Dalian government news portal stated sarcastically that Schellenberg’s audacity was to be admired given that he “actually dared to smuggle drugs into China.” It pointed out that Chinese criminal law offers “no sympathy” for drug crimes.

Global News reached out to the Canadian government for comment, but a response was not forthcoming.

WATCH: Destination Canada pulls tourism ad in China







China has some of the harshest drug laws in the world.

People found guilty of smuggling large quantities of drugs face sentences ranging from 15 years’ imprisonment to life imprisonment and even the death penalty, the Global Times reported.

In 2009, China executed British citizen Akmal Shaikh after he was caught smuggling heroin. Shaikh’s death prompted outrage in the U.K. over the apparent lack of any mental health assessment.

The following year, Chinese authorities executed Japanese national Mitsunobu Akano for smuggling drugs.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau says people around the world ‘extremely disturbed’ by detention of Canadians in China

Schellenberg’s reported detention comes as Canada and China spar over the fate of Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained in China on suspicion of endangering national security.

Their detention came shortly after Canadian authorities arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese tech giant Huawei, in Vancouver at the behest of U.S. authorities who are seeking her extradition.

WATCH: Ottawa demands China release two detained Canadian men







China has demanded that Canada release Meng immediately, but neither country has drawn a direct connection between her arrest and the detention of Canadians in China.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Complaint dismissed against judge accused of misconduct

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A judge accused of advocating on behalf of an organization he founded has been cleared of misconduct charges.

Justice Donald McLeod was accused of failing to uphold integrity, impartiality and independence of the judiciary when he communicated with and met with politicians on behalf of the Federation of Black Canadians (FBC).

In a ruling Thursday, members of the Ontario Judicial Council wrote that although McLeod’s actions were « incompatible with judicial office » they did not impact « the public’s confidence in his ability to perform the duties of office. »

« The advocacy and political activity that Justice McLeod engaged in were not prolonged and they were conducted in a measured and respectful manner, » the ruling reads.

The FBC, founded by McLeod in 2016, is described as a non-profit organization to advance the social, economic, political and cultural interests of Canadians of African descent.

McLeod did get approval from an ethics committee to do his work, but a complaint against him said he didn’t fully describe his role. McLeod left the organization in June.

Meeting with PM chaired by McLeod

One of the offending events laid out in the ruling was a meeting between black community leaders and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in June 2017 to « discuss the mental health, corrections and education challenges black people face in Canada. » That meeting was chaired by McLeod.

« Justice McLeod testified that he did not « sit there as a bump on the log » and that he was involved in facilitating the conversation, » the ruling read.

It goes on to describe several moments a PowerPoint presentation identified specific steps the government should take to address the issues laid out. These came under headings labelled « ask. »

« This decision clarifies the issue of advocacy and political activity by judges and defines a boundary that all judges must respect in the future, however laudable their motives, » a summary by the council stated.

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Terrorists or targets? Appeal court to decide fate of B.C. couple accused in bomb plot

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B.C.’s Court of Appeal will hand down a decision on Wednesday that could see a Surrey couple sent to jail for planting explosive devices on the grounds of the provincial legislature.

A jury found John Nuttall and Amanda Korody guilty of terrorism offences in 2015. But a B.C. Supreme Court judge stayed the proceedings in 2016 after finding the pair had been entrapped by police in an investigation that amounted to an abuse of process. 

A panel of judges on the higher court will decide whether to set aside Justice Catherine Bruce’s ruling. 

If they do, the guilty verdicts stands and the trial will move to sentencing. If they don’t, the proceedings remain stayed. However, either outcome could be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

The proceedings mark the latest chapter in an extraordinary legal odyssey that began more than five years ago when the RCMP said it had foiled a plot to set off pressure cooker bombs during the 2013 Canada Day festivities in Victoria.

But two very different versions of events were argued in court.

Nuttall and Korody, shown here in a still image taken from an RCMP undercover video, were found guilty of plotting to set off pressure cooker bombs at the B.C. Legislature. (Canadian Press)

The Crown contended Nuttall and Korody were « aspiring terrorists committed to violent jihad » while the defence claimed they were hapless fools who police had to all but hand-lead into plotting terrorist acts.

In her lengthy decision, Bruce delivered a blistering assessment of the case.

« Simply put, the world has enough terrorists, » she said. « We do not need the police to create more out of marginalized people who have neither the capacity nor the sufficient motivation to do it themselves. »

‘Unrealistic, unfeasible and grandiose’

Police began investigating Nuttall in 2012 after a member of the public claimed he had been « espousing violent Islamic beliefs » and had claimed to have killed a Jewish woman.

Nuttall, 44, who converted to Islam in 2011, claimed he was joking. Prior to 2012, he showed up on police records largely for drug-related offences. 

Korody, 35, had no criminal record and was only listed on police databases in connection with Nuttall, with whom she had been living on the streets of Victoria in 2009 and 2010.

The RCMP’s national security team began investigating in consultation with the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Nuttall and Korody are seen in an artist’s sketch during their trial in Vancouver in 2015. (Felicity Don/Canadian Press)

Police ultimately launched an elaborate undercover operation that saw a Muslim officer posing as a jihadi work his way into Nuttall and Korody’s confidence.

Together, they embarked on the bomb plot.

But as Bruce pointed out, the couple’s ideas were « unrealistic, unfeasible and grandiose » — they talked about hijacking a nuclear submarine, taking the world hostage and building rockets to free Palestine.

In Victoria, where he had once lived, Nuttall forgot the location of the parliament buildings. He kept losing things and the judge found that without the « constant prodding and refocusing » of police he never would have completed his shopping list for the bombs. Korody spent most of the time asleep.

‘The RCMP manufactured the crime’

The law surrounding entrapment goes to the heart of the judicial system and the need to maintain confidence in the actions of police officers tasked with tricky investigations.

Bruce noted a critical distinction between situations in which police — acting on reasonable suspicion — « provide an opportunity to a person to commit a crime, on the one hand, and the state actually creating or inducing a crime for the purpose of prosecuting an accused. »

She stayed the proceedings on three grounds; two relating to entrapment and a third concerning abuse of process. 

First, the judge found police started the undercover operation without reasonable suspicion Nuttall and Korody were already engaged in criminal activity. Surveillance revealed they « did very little outside their home, » she said. 

The Crown’s appeal has been largely based on arguments that, in staying the proceedings, Justice Catherine Bruce misread the facts of the case. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Second, Bruce found police « knowingly exploited » the pair’s vulnerabilities « to induce them to commit the offences. »

The judge said it wasn’t a situation where RCMP foiled a pre-existing plan or where terrorists or people with skills terrorists might value were targeted.

« This is truly a case where the RCMP manufactured the crime, » Bruce wrote.

Finally, Bruce found the « illegal acts » police committed during the undercover operation and the way the undercover operative used religious talk to dispel their fears amounted to an abuse of process.

« It cannot be said that the police acted in bad faith; however, they did not act in good faith, » Bruce wrote.

The Crown’s appeal has been largely based on arguments that Bruce misread the facts of the case. To be successful, the appeal court judges will have to find that Bruce was wrong on all three of her findings.

After the proceedings were stayed in 2016, the Crown sought a peace bond against Nuttall and Korody, but a provincial court judge has held off hearing those arguments until the appeal court ruling.

The pair are currently on bail associated with the peace bond application.

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Second Toronto officer accused of eating pot edibles on duty ‘maintains her innocence,’ lawyer says

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A Toronto police officer who allegedly ate marijuana-laced edibles on duty is maintaining her innocence and intends to fight her charges in court, according to her lawyer.

Const. Jamie Young, who has two years of service with Toronto police, is charged with attempting to obstruct justice and breach of trust in connection to a Jan. 27 incident in which she and her partner allegedly consumed cannabis edibles that had just been seized from a pot dispensary raid while on-duty and armed.

Handout photographs of evidence presented in the trial of ex-Toronto police constable Vittorio Dominelli, who pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice by eating seized pot edibles while on duty. His co-accused, Const. Jamie Young plans to take her charges to trial, her lawyer said in court on Tuesday.
Handout photographs of evidence presented in the trial of ex-Toronto police constable Vittorio Dominelli, who pleaded guilty to attempting to obstruct justice by eating seized pot edibles while on duty. His co-accused, Const. Jamie Young plans to take her charges to trial, her lawyer said in court on Tuesday.  (Handout/Toronto Star)

In a brief court appearance Tuesday, her lawyer Domenic Basile said Young wants to take the charges to trial to be heard before a judge and jury. A preliminary hearing date has been set for October, with a trial likely in 2020 if the inquiry finds there’s sufficient evidence.

“I am very happy we have an excellent justice system in Canada where you’re presumed innocent and the Crown has to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, and my client maintains her innocence,” Basile told reporters outside court.

Last week Young’s co-accused, former police officer Vittorio Dominelli, was handed a nine-month conditional sentence after pleading guilty to attempting to obstruct justice. He has also resigned from the Toronto police and told the court last month he was “truly remorseful” for his actions, saying the incident changed his life.

According to an agreed statement of facts in Domenelli’s case, he and Young obtained cannabis-laced chocolate following a raid of the Community Cannabis Clinic on St. Clair Ave. W., and decided to try it later in their shift while working surveillance.

Court heard that the cannabis hit Dominelli like a “ton of bricks’ and that he issued an officer-in-distress call over the police radio, believing he was going to die. Police and paramedics then rushed to the scene and one officer en route slipped and fell on the ice, sustaining a serious concussion that still has her off work recovering.

Young, who is suspended with pay, also faces six charges of professional misconduct under Ontario’s the Police Service Act. The charges include discreditable conduct, being unfit for duty through consumption of drugs, neglecting to carry out a lawful order and knowingly making a false statement.

The charges have not been proven at the tribunal and the disciplinary hearing will not begin until the criminal proceedings are over.

According to police documents outlining the misconduct allegations, Young was in charge of seizing the evidence following the pot dispensary raid. She is alleged to have “failed to account for some of this chocolate seized,” as the documents state the “quantity listed on the property tag and submitted did not match the true amount seized.”

“In so doing, you committed misconduct in that you knowingly made or signed a false statement in a record,” the police document said.

Criminal charges were withdrawn against seven people arrested during the raid due to the officers’ alleged actions.

Young’s preliminary hearing is scheduled to begin Oct. 28, 2017.

Wendy Gillis is a Toronto-based reporter covering crime and policing. Reach her by email at wgillis@thestar.ca or follow her on Twitter: @wendygillis

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Supreme court orders Vice reporter to give RCMP info on accused terrorist – National

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The Supreme Court of Canada says a reporter must give the RCMP material he gathered for stories about an accused terrorist.

The decision is likely to be seen as a defeat for media that could leave them vulnerable to serving as investigative arms of the police.


READ MORE:
Vice Media challenges RCMP demand for reporter materials in top Ontario court

In 2014, Vice Media reporter Ben Makuch wrote three articles about the involvement of Farah Shirdon, formerly of Calgary, with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Exchanges between Makuch and Shirdon through a text-messaging service were crucial to the stories.

The RCMP obtained a production order under the Criminal Code that directed Vice Media and Makuch to hand over documents and data related to communications with Shirdon.


READ MORE:
Vice Media reporter forced to turn over materials to RCMP after Ontario appeal court ruling

Makuch brought an application to quash the production order, but it was dismissed _ a decision upheld by the Ontario Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court.

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