Many voices were heard this week in Montreal calling for an independent investigation to shed light on the events that led to the arrest, incarceration and charge of Mamadi III Fara Camara.
But who could take charge of it?
According to the lawyer Denis Dionne, who served as a Crown attorney in Alma for 27 years, it is not part of the regular mandate of the Bureau of Independent Investigations (BEI) to conduct such investigations.
The police officers involved in the Camara affair only did their job, underlines Me Dionne, and are not the subject of any criminal allegation. “So I believe that the BEI, quickly, is not an authorized body to act at this stage, in these circumstances,” he said.
The BEI’s mandate is to investigate “in all cases where, during a police intervention or during his detention by a police force, a person other than a police officer on duty dies or suffers a serious injury or an injury caused by a firearm used by a police officer ”, according to the Police Act.
However, it mentions that, in exceptional cases, the Minister of Public Security may also ask him to investigate any other event involving a peace officer and having a link with his duties.
The untouchable DPCP?
Furthermore, the current structure of the justice system simply does not allow the decisions of the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP) to be called into question, adds Me Dionne.
“I do not know – humbly, for the moment – which would be the body which could have the authority or the competence to carry out any investigation whatsoever on a criminal procedure under hand of justice in court of justice”, a- he told Radio-Canada.
“Crown attorneys,” he explains, “have discretion when the time comes to authorize a criminal prosecution or to suspend it as they have done in the present case, and that discretion cannot not be revised. “
“The Court of Appeal has already mentioned that it could not itself order Crown prosecutors to disclose the reasons for which they authorized a criminal prosecution or not,” recalls the former prosecutor.
His colleague Me René Verret, who served as a Crown attorney for over 33 years before making the jump to the private sector, agrees.
“The DPCP is free to make its decisions,” he summed up in an interview with Radio-Canada. The DPCP does not have to justify its decisions, that is clear. On the other hand, indeed, if an investigation were launched and ordered, we would have to see how far the investigation could go at that level. ”
Because the solution, according to him, may be through an ad hoc investigation.
“It could be lawyers; it could be retired judges; it could also be former police chiefs … There are a lot of people in Quebec who have extremely important experience who could carry out this type of investigation if it were ordered, ”he believes.
Quebec and Ottawa are blowing hot and cold
The holding of an independent investigation into the Camara affair was demanded by many voices this week, including that of Valérie Plante, who was rebuffed Friday by the Fraternité des policières et policières after inviting the SPVM and the DPCP to submit to such an investigation.
In response, the mayor’s office sent Radio-Canada a statement in which it recalls that Ms. Plante requested a neutral investigation in order to shed light on (this affair), just as the Minister of Public Security of Quebec and the Prime Minister of Canada.
But that’s not exactly what they said Genevieve Guilbault and Justin trudeau.
“The circumstances which led to the indictment of Mr. Mamadi Fara Camara must be examined,” the Minister of Public Security tweeted on Thursday. We are working with the City of Montreal on the most optimal formula while respecting the SPVM investigation, which is still ongoing.
As for Prime Minister Trudeau, who was questioned on the subject on Friday, he said he was confident that the authorities (put) in place the necessary measures to shed light on this troubling situation, without expressing a clear opinion on the form that could take a possible independent investigation.
A fault to prove in order to obtain redress
Meanwhile, the Montreal police investigation into who disarmed and injured a policeman on January 28 in Parc-Extension continues, notably in LaSalle, where a suspicious vehicle was located this week. It was as part of this investigation that Mamadi Camara was arrested, imprisoned and charged, who was released on Wednesday at the end of the proceedings.
The main person, who was finally exonerated on Friday of the four charges brought against him, has not yet announced his intentions for the next steps. Could he, for example, file a lawsuit for damages to obtain compensation?
It’s a plausible scenario, according to Me Virginie Dufresne-Lemire, lawyer specializing in appeals against the police. “If a fault has been committed by this police officer, there is indeed a possibility of recourse against the police officer and against his employer,” she said. This is the standard of the reasonable police officer. We have to see if a police officer placed in the same circumstances would have taken the same actions. ”
However, if Mamadi Camara wished to take legal action against the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, the task would be more complex, adds Me Dufresne-Lemire.
“To prosecute the DPCP, the level of fault to be proven is much higher,” she explains. It is necessary to prove a malicious intention, an intentional fault. The burden of proof is much heavier. ”
The lawyer specifies that Mamadi Camara has six months to decide whether or not to prosecute the Montreal police, while this deadline is three years with regard to a legal action against the DPCP.