Representatives of the CHSLD Herron de Dorval, where 47 people died in murky circumstances during the first wave of COVID-19, want to collaborate in the coroner’s public inquiry, but not before knowing whether or not they will be charged with criminal negligence.
“Seven months have passed since the file was submitted to the DPCP [Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales]. We anticipate a decision in the near future than the distant future, ”pleaded this morning Me Nadine Touma, at the Montreal courthouse.
The criminal lawyer represents the manager of the CHSLD Herron Samantha Chowieri and the director general of the establishment, Andrei Sabin Stanica.
They must normally testify as part of the public inquiry by Coroner Géhane Kamel, which begins this morning and will continue until June, on a few days per month.
However, a criminal investigation has also been carried out by the Montreal Police Department since the disturbing discovery of 47 people who died in nebulous circumstances, last April, at the CHSLD located on the island of Montreal.
While waiting to see whether criminal negligence charges will be laid against them, Ms. Chowieri and Mr. Stanica are requesting the postponement of the public hearings, to ensure a fair and equitable trial, if necessary.
Otherwise, the lawyer for CHSLD Herron requests that the subpoenas of her clients be suspended temporarily.
“They would very much like to collaborate in the work of the public inquiry, but what about their right to silence? [prévu par le Code criminel], if they had to testify in the present hearing, ”argued Me Touma.
Finally, if Coroner Kamel were to refuse these requests, Me Touma suggested that she order the non-publication of the proceedings until the final decision of the DPCP is taken.
“It is the only way not to compromise the police investigation or to influence the decision-making process of the DPCP”, summarized the lawyer.
As for the DPCP, “there is no timetable for the moment”, announced Me Marie-Claude Bourassa.
“It’s a scrutiny that takes a while. This assessment does not prevent the start of the public inquiry. There is no problem, in our opinion, to preserve the fairness of a possible trial, ”she explained to the coroner.
The media lawyers, who oppose the request for non-publication of the proceedings, will plead in the late morning.
CHSLDs under the coroner’s magnifying glass
– the CHSLD Herron in Dorval
– the CHSLD Des Moulins, in Terrebonne;
– the Manoir Liverpool, in Lévis;
– the René-Lévesque CHSLD, in Longueuil;
– the CHSLD Laflèche, in Shawinigan;
– the CHSLD Sainte-Dorothée, in Laval;
– CHSLD Yvon-Brunet, in Montreal.