Quebec City sword attack suspect will go directly to trial

The alleged perpetrator of the sword attack in Quebec City is set to go directly to trial without a preliminary hearing in an effort to speed up the judicial process.

Carl Girouard will not be entitled to a preliminary inquiry and will return to court on Sept. 7.

Girouard, a 25-year-old from Sainte-Thérèse, a suburb of Montreal, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

On Halloween night, Oct. 31, an assailant armed with a Japanese sword and wearing a medieval costume attacked random passersby in Old Quebec.

The events shook the city and its mayor, Régis Labeaume, who noted that it was the second tragedy in the provincial capital since the mosque shooting in 2017 to make international headlines.

On Friday, the accused appeared briefly by videoconference from the Quebec City Detention Facility.

Dressed in a brightly coloured plaid shirt, he appeared before Quebec Court Judge Jean Asselin with short hair and a freshly shaved face.

Prosecutor François Godin filed a direct indictment, noting that the defence lawyer, Pierre Gagnon, had been notified in advance.

Godin did not explain the use of this procedure. Later, the spokesperson for the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DPCP), Audrey Roy Cloutier, explained that the public interest had to be taken into account.

"In addition to the reasonable prospect of conviction required to initiate a prosecution, the prosecutor (...) must first have determined that the public interest justifies the use of this procedure," she said.

"With all due respect to ongoing legal proceedings, and in order not to prejudice them, we cannot comment further at this time," she added.

The approach is not unlike how the case of the mosque shooter, Alexandre Bissonnette, unfolded. On Oct. 3, 2017, the team of prosecutors, which included Godin, had him go directly to trial without a preliminary hearing.

It was explained at the time to be a decision `long considered' and taken `in the public interest.' The question of time was also one of the factors considered.

On March 12, Godin indicated that the disclosure of evidence in Carl Girouard's file was complete.

In November, when many were commenting on the accused's mental health, he reminded them that Girouard was presumed mentally fit for trial until proven otherwise.

- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 18, 2021.

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