POLITICS

More controversy in Montreal: three police officers suspended amid RCMP probe

06/17/2013 09:19 EDT | Updated 08/17/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Three Montreal police officers have been suspended amid an RCMP investigation into misbehaviour on the force.

A city police spokesman said Monday that the suspensions were an internal disciplinary matter for the moment, but they stemmed from a Mountie investigation that's ongoing.

It was another bit of grim news for Montreal on a day when 14 criminal charges were laid against the city’s interim mayor, Michael Applebaum, who replaced a predecessor felled by scandal.

Cmdr. Ian Lafreniere didn't name the suspended officers because he said no charges had been laid in the ongoing case.

He said the RCMP originally began investigating for “interfering with the justice system,” without offering many other details.

“There are five officers in total that were targeted by the investigation,” he said.

“This is not over.”

He did not deny a report that the investigation was allegedly related to a contract given to a private security firm.

Montreal's La Presse reported that the investigation is related to a contract handed to the now-defunct BCIA firm for surveillance at the city's police headquarters.

That contract was handed out by the force’s former administration.

"Is (the probe) in direct link to BCIA?... I'm going to have a hard time to tell you it doesn't," Lafreniere said.

"But is it all because of this (BCIA)?... I don't believe so."

Ex-chief Yvan Delorme, who unexpectedly resigned in 2010, has said there might have been “administrative errors” in the awarding of the contract but that they were committed in good faith.

BCIA is now bankrupt, after having been embroiled in several scandals at the provincial level.

A provincial Liberal cabinet minister, Tony Tomassi, had to resign after allegations surfaced that he had been using a credit card supplied to him by the company.

He faces fraud and breach of trust charges in the case.

Delorme was also forced to defend himself recently against an allegation by former Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay.

The ex-mayor testified at a corruption inquiry that the police chief showed no interest in investigating an extortion attempt by a high-ranking local political operative. Delorme disputed the mayor’s characterization of their conversations.