POLITICS

Publication ban maintained in Quebec election-night shooting case

05/10/2013 12:00 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - The preliminary hearing for the man charged in Quebec's election-night shooting has been struck by a wide-ranging publication ban described as ''unprecedented'' by one media lawyer.

Quebec court Judge Pierre Labelle's blanket ban means nothing can be reported about Richard Henry Bain's hearing.

Labelle ruled Friday that a temporary ban he ordered a week ago be maintained throughout the current hearing, which is aimed at determining whether Bain will stand trial.

It was the Crown that requested the ban, much to the chagrin of the accused, who fought against it.

Labelle's decision on Friday means the ban applies not only to the evidence but also to reporting any observations or details from the courtroom.

Bain, 62, is facing 16 charges, including first-degree murder, stemming from last September's shooting.

Denis Blanchette, 48, a stagehand was fatally shot, while one of his colleagues, Dave Courage, was seriously injured outside the concert hall where Premier Pauline Marois was delivering her victory speech.

Labelle also placed a publication ban on reporting the details of why he maintained the ban.

"It's absolutely extraordinary, I've never seen that (before)," said media lawyer Mark Bantey. "But I can't comment any further because there's a publication ban in effect.

"It is unprecedented that a judge imposes a publication ban on his own judgment. Especially in the context of a preliminary inquiry."

A publication ban on reporting details of the evidence is usually normal at the preliminary hearing stage and is automatic when requested by the defence.

In this instance, it was Crown prosecutor Eliane Perreault who made the request, hoping to preserve a fair trial for Bain. When the Crown asks for a ban, it's up to the judge to make the final decision.

Bantey, who represents some of the media organizations that fought the ban in the first place, said he would talk to his clients about challenging Friday's ruling.

The publication ban was also being contested by Bain himself.

Bain's previous appearances in court have been marked by frequent outbursts and long diatribes about his political beliefs. He has also contacted media from jail.

The accused is representing himself in court after legal aid told him he didn't qualify.

The preliminary inquiry resumes May 21.