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Vancouver Riot Investigation: Charges Laid, As 25 People Face 61 Offences

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VANCOUVER - The first set of charges have been laid in the Stanley Cup riot in Vancouver, targeting 25 people suspected of committing 61 offences ranging from taking part in a riot to arson, theft and assault.

A month ago, Vancouver police recommended 163 charges against 60 people, and Crown lawyers have now approved the first batch of them.

Vancouver police Insp. Les Yeo said Wednesday he's encouraged by the approval of the charges and police are continuing to work with prosecutors on more.

Most of the suspected rioters are 17- to 33-year-old men from the Metro Vancouver area, with one person from Seattle.

While most of the alleged rioters face two or three charges, a 20-year-old man is charged with six offences, including two of break and enter and three of mischief.

Rioters burned cars, smashed windows and looted stores on June 15 as the Vancouver Canucks lost the final game of the Stanley Cup playoffs to the Boston Bruins.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie said five Crown lawyers are dedicated to assessing charges against suspected rioters.

He said police forwarded both video and photographic evidence from the chaos that ensued at various locations in downtown Vancouver, where thousands of people were gathered to watch the game on giant screens.

"For example, to prove a charge of participating in a riot, we have to establish the larger picture that a riot was taking place but also the narrower picture relating to each individual accused and whatever that person may have done in the larger picture."

Investigators have travelled to a specialized lab in Indianapolis to examine 5,000 hours of footage in a forensic video database.

Fifty forensic analysts have worked to identify suspected rioters.

It's not known when the first cases will be tried in provincial court, MacKenzie said.

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