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Pursuit des Bettez: a more collaborative tone

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Documents from the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) will be sent to the Bettez family’s lawyer. This is what lawyers for both parties agreed today, during closed-door discussions at the Montreal courthouse.

  • Stéphane Bordeleau (View profile)Stéphane Bordeleau

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On the last day of the preparatory hearings in the lawsuit filed by Jonathan Bettez and his parents against the Sûreté du Québec (SQ), their lawyer says he is satisfied with the gains he obtained this week in anticipation of the lawsuit filed by his clients .

While the week had opened in a dynamic of confrontation between the attorney general and the Bettez, who accuse the SQ of having ruined their reputation by associating their son Jonathan with the disappearance of Cédrika Provencher, the tone was more collaborative on Friday.

The court today considered the requests concerning the transmission to the Bettez of evidence of electronic tapping of their communications collected by the SQ over the years and of the authorizations and judicial denunciations contained in the investigation file. Both parties agreed to collaborate behind closed doors on drafting a proposed order to the judge.

Judge Gregory Moore finally pronounced an order at midday allowing the Bettez's lawyer to obtain around twenty judicial authorizations and denunciations, as well as wiretap tapes captured in 2016 at the homes of its customers and coming from their telephone lines.

Earlier this week, the parties also agreed on the transfer to the complainants of documents and information contained in the SQ investigation file, which the prosecutor initially categorically opposed. general who represents the Sûreté du Québec in this pursuit.

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At the end of a week of hearings and negotiations, the lawyer for the Bettez clan, Me Jessy Héroux, seemed satisfied with the concessions he obtained.

These are documents that we had been asking for for nine months and there we managed to find a way to obtain them, so it was successful, the lawyer said in a statement to journalists.

What we have been working to do since Tuesday is to find a way through which we would have access to the investigation documents which will allow us to establish the fault of the Sûreté du Québec during the trial.

A quote from Me Jessy Héroux, lawyer for Jonathan Bettez and his parents

L& #x27;lawyer, however, did not obtain everything he asked from the Court.

We would have liked to have a public debate on the DNA evidence, we would have liked to have a public debate on the physical descriptions of the suspects on the sketches and on the identification parades and their results. It's postponed.

Usually, when a person is accused of a crime, the evidence collected against them is automatically transmitted to their lawyer.

However, as Jonathan Bettez was never formally accused in connection with the disappearance of Cédrika Provencher, the elements in the file were never transmitted to his lawyer. This explains the Bettez's request for access to this information in this lawsuit filed four years ago.

A trial date should be fixed by September. However, it will be necessary to wait another one to four additional years before the trial takes place due to the availability of the Court.

The lawyer says his clients will not accept any settlement, that they will go all the way and that they will win.

The hearings held this week at the Montreal courthouse were intended to settle various motions filed by the parties in anticipation of this trial.

The main dispute concerned the sharing, with the prosecution's lawyers, of information from the SQ investigation file into the murder of Cédrika Provencher, one of the most publicized child disappearances in Canada.

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The lawyer for Jonathan Bettez and his family, Me Jessy Héroux.

According to the Bettez's lawyer, Me Jessy Héroux, this information is essential to establish that the SQ does not hold any tangible proof of his client's guilt. The lawyer also intends to demonstrate that evidence that could exonerate Jonathan Bettez was ignored by the investigators who, according to him, worked hard to make his client guilty in this case.

The SQ, for its part, wants to protect its investigation file to the extent that the person who kidnapped and killed Cédrika Provencher is still wanted and Jonathan Bettez is still considered a suspect.

The other difficulty raised by the Bettez lawyer is the Attorney General's insistence that the debates surrounding the preparation of the trial not be entirely made public .

The SQ requested closed sessions, ex parte proceedings and publication bans, officially to protect the evidence in the file. A precaution which surprised the Bettez's lawyer, who stressed that the police had, according to him, voluntarily leaked information to the media to associate Jonathan Bettez with the disappearance of Cédrika Provencher.

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Jonathan Bettez had attracted the attention of investigators by refusing to submit to the polygraph test.

On Tuesday, Judge Gregory Moore ruled that the Attorney General of Quebec had not demonstrated that the publicity of the debates posed a serious risk to the public interest.

Journalists were therefore able to attend the hearings. Which is a victory in itself for the Bettez.

With regard to sensitive documents, the magistrate ruled that the Court will determine individually the elements of the file which will or will not be subject to a non-publication order, following debates.

The next day, the plaintiffs and the attorney general announced that they had agreed on the transfer of several documents from the SQ to the Bettez family lawyer rather than submitting the publication of each document sensitive to a debate before the judge.

The parties also agreed that these documents could be used during a possible trial. Until today, the Attorney General was opposed to it.

These are the documents that were requested for nine months

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The Bettez family is suing the SQ for $10 million for ruining their reputation by associating Jonathan Bettez for years with the murder of Cédrika Provencher.

Besides Jonathan Bettez, who intends to testify in person during a possible civil trial, the former general director of the SQ Martin Prud'homme will also be questioned as part of the lawsuit filed against the SQ.

The former senior officer of the SQ should indeed undergo prior interrogation. Which means that he will be questioned by the Bettez family's lawyers and that his testimony may be added to the evidence. This does not mean, however, that he will necessarily be called to the stand during the trial.

Mr. Prud'homme was an investigator in 2007, during the disappearance of Cédrika Provencher. He was also director general of the SQ in 2015, when the girl's death was confirmed.

Cédrika Provencher disappeared on July 31 2007, in Trois-Rivières, at the age of 9. All that was found was his bicycle, leaning on a fire hydrant. She was never seen alive again.

Her remains were found on December 11, 2015 in a wooded area on the edge of the ;Highway 40, in Saint-Maurice.

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Police officers are carrying out searches in a wooded area of ​​Trois-Rivières following the discovery of the bones of Cédrika Provencher , in December 2015.

For more than 16 years, investigators tried to find who kidnapped and killed Cédrika Provencher. Hundreds of leads were checked, but to no avail.

Jonathan Bettez had attracted the attention of investigators because at the time he was driving a car – a red Acura – similar to the one seen by witnesses near the scene of the disappearance. He did not want to collaborate with the investigators by refusing in particular to submit to the polygraph test. He was also in Trois-Rivières at the time of the events, according to the police, who still consider Mr. Bettez as the main suspect in this case.

On August 29, 2016 – the day Cédrika Provencher would have turned 19 – the SQ arrested Jonathan Bettez for possession and distribution of child pornography following searches carried out in particular at his parents' company, Emballages Bettez.

The man was subsequently acquitted of the 10 charges against him.

Among the documents that will be at the heart of the upcoming civil trial is the action plan of the SQ in the investigation into the murder of Cédrika Provencher.

Dated April 11, 2016, the strategy describes how investigators intended to use pornography as an important leverage tool in the investigation.

In October 2018, judge Jacques Lacoursière severely criticized the work of the SQ investigators. He described their actions as a fishing operation. The police actions were, in his opinion, abusive and the warrants were invalid, he concluded.

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