12:00 (noon), Thursday, January 29, 2009
Palais de Justice, 1 Notre-Dame East
Family-friendly rally!! Bring your placards and banners!!
Join us in denouncing the proceedings filed by the Montreal Police Brotherhood that seeks to prevent the coroner’s inquest into the death of Anas from taking place!
IMPORTANT UPDATE (27-1-09):
Dear friends and supporters of the Justice for Anas Coalition:
We have just learned, via the Bennis family lawyer, that the hearing of the legal proceedings filed by the Montreal Police Brotherhood to prevent the coroner’s inquest from taking place has been postponed. In light of this news, we are calling off our call for courtroom solidarity this Thursday, January 29. However, we will continue with our plans to have a lunchtime rally (see above) to oppose the Montreal Police Brotherhood’s attempts to cancel the coroner’s inquiry from taking place and to share our perspectives on why the hearing has been postponed.
Please note that we will make sure to mobilize again to ensure that there is a strong presence in court for whenever the postponed hearing ends up taking place, which we anticipate will be in the coming months.
Justice for Anas Coalition
Early in the morning of December 1, 2005, Mohamed Anas Bennis, a 25-year old Canadian of Moroccan origin, was on his way home following morning prayers in a nearby mosque in his neighbourhood of Côte-des-Neiges when he was shot twice by Montreal police officer Yannick Bernier who was working with officer Jonathan Roy. Anas was pronounced dead on arrival to the hospital.
Now, over three years later, the Bennis family and the public are hardly any closer to understanding exactly why Anas, who was described as a mild-mannered and sensitive person, was killed by the Montreal police that morning. The Bennis family has been met with disrespect and disdain on the part of government bodies in its multiple attempts to ascertain very basic truths. A troubling veil of secrecy continues to cloud the circumstances surrounding Anas’ death. For two years now, the Bennis family, along with the Justice for Anas Coalition, has been demanding a full, public and independent inquiry on Anas’ death.
In June 2008, Quebec’s chief coroner, Louise Nolet, announced that she had ordered a coroner’s inquiry into Anas’ death. Although this was not a full and independent inquiry as the Justice for Anas Coalition had been demanding since its formation in January 2007, it was nevertheless an important, albeit partial, victory. The decision to order the coroner’s inquiry surely came as a result of the public pressure campaign led by the Justice for Anas Coalition, whose three demands have been endorsed by more than 30 organisations, over the past 2 years.
However, in August 2008, the Montreal Police Brotherhood filed proceedings against Louise Nolet and coroner Catherine Rudel-Tessier – who was to preside over the coroner’s inquiry – with the goal of having the coroner’s inquiry cancelled. The Brotherhood alleges that all of the answers to the family’s questions have already been made available. Yet, up until now, the family has not received answers to many of their questions: why has the knife that Anas allegedly wielded — according to the police version of the events — never been produced or undergone forensic evaluation? Why has the video of the scene never been made public? Why have the police officers Bernier and Roy never had to testify publicly or been cross-examined on their version of the facts? The Brotherhood also preposterously alleges that the coroner’s inquiry will only serve to harass officer Bernier.
This action by the Police Brotherhood simply adds more questions for the Bennis family, and reveals the police’s bad faith and lack of transparency. It is worth noting that this is the same Brotherhood that filed similar proceedings to prevent an inquest into the death of Michel Berniquez (killed by a police officer in 2003), and whose president Yves Francoeur has stated that officer Jean-Loup Lapointe (who killed Fredy Villanueva this past summer on August 9th) “did his job properly.”
It is imperative that the Brotherhood as well as municipal and provincial governments are reminded that the public support for the Justice for Anas campaign remains strong, and that the Brotherhood’s attempts at preventing the truth from coming out will not go unchallenged.
Please come out in large numbers to fill the court and to support the demands of the Justice for Anas Coalition.
THE JUSTICE FOR ANAS COALITION
The Justice for Anas Coalition demands:
- The immediate release of all reports, evidence and information concerning the death of Anas Bennis to the Bennis family and to the public;
- A full, public and independent inquiry into the death of Anas Bennis;
- An end to police brutality and impunity.