Montsion lawyers call for increased security after disturbing comments at court

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

WARNING - DISTURBING CONTENT

Crown lawyers at the manslaughter trial of Constable Daniel Montsion reported a disturbing incident as testimony continued Tuesday. Montion’s defence lawyers reported intimidating and racist comments made by two men, raising a concern about security at the trial. The incident brought the manslaughter trial to a brief halt as the court dealt with these troubling comments aimed at both Montsion and his two lawyers, comments involving swears and anti-Semitic remarks that prompted the judge to call for action.

The incident according to lawyer Solomon Friedman happened inside the courthouse as the trial broke for lunch.  Two men, one of whom had been attending the trial for several days, are reported to have hurled comments as Montsion, a Police Sergeant and his lawyers walked by.

"Hey murderer,” one man is alleged to have said.

Another man near the door adds, "You're a piece of s*** and so are those dirty f****** Jew lawyers.  You killed a mentally ill man."

Friedman says while he didn't hear the comments, the sergeant accompanying Montsion did and reported it.  Surveillance footage from the courthouse is now being used to identify the men.  While Montsion's lawyers called the comments disturbing, they said "...as defence counsels, we refuse to be intimidated."

The defence has asked for additional security surrounding this trial; thoughts echoed by Justice Robert Kelly who noted this is the second such occurrence.

“Incidents like this can quickly escalate or explode into incidents that raise concerns and risks for public safety," Justice Kelly said.  The judge added that it can even impact a person's right to a fair trial. Justice Kelly said he's obligated to take steps to make sure these incidents stop.  What those steps entail we don't know yet.  But expect to see an increase in security going forward.

The trial has caused deep divides from the start with graphic video of a troubling end to the life of 37-year-old Abdirahman Abdi.  Montsion has pleaded not guilty to the charges of manslaughter, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Over the last several days, court has heard more testimony from the paramedics who rushed Abdi to the hospital with no pulse present but no idea why.

“We don't know the cause of death,” a paramedic is heard on the dispatch audio played in court, “It could be traumatic VSA….patient is bleeding a lot from the face.”

The Crown has also confirmed that it will not call Abdi's mother to the stand.  That came as a surprise to many, including Montsion's defence lawyers who had prepared for her testimony.  Crown lawyer Philip Perlmutter told court he had difficulties for nearly a year finding an interpreter to help with the interview of the mother, adding that finally happened yesterday.  It was after that, Perlmutter said, that the Crown decided the testimony was not needed.