POLITICS

A first in Quebec's corruption scandal: No bail for Pamela Porter

06/25/2013 10:51 EDT | Updated 08/25/2013 05:12 EDT
MONTREAL - Of the 106 people arrested by Quebec's anti-corruption unit, she is the first to have been denied bail.

Pamela Porter, the wife of Canada's former spy watchdog Arthur Porter, had her request for freedom refused during a hearing Tuesday.

The decision to keep her in jail came the day before her 53rd birthday.

She showed no emotion as she listened through a translator to Quebec court Judge Robert Marchi's bail decision.

She faces one charge of conspiracy as well as another related to laundering more than $22 million stemming from the construction of Montreal's English-language superhospital.

She is accused of helping her husband, the former head of Security Intelligence Review Committee and of the McGill University Health Centre, launder the money.

The bail process was covered by a publication ban so details cannot be reported. However, in the end, Marchi agreed with the Crown's contention that Pamela Porter presented a flight risk.

"We are happy with the decision," said prosecutor Marie-Helene Giroux. "The court has decided that Mrs. Porter constitutes a flight risk and should remain detained pending trial, so now we'll get ready for a preliminary inquiry."

One of Porter's daughters sat in the courtroom as Marchi announced his decision.

Upon hearing the ruling, her lawyer Marc-Antoine Carette requested a preliminary hearing as soon as possible to get her case to trial quickly.

He declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

Dates will be set aside for the inquiry on July 3rd.

Of the 106 people arrested and charged by Quebec's anti-corruption unit, the others have had their request for freedom accepted — sometimes under strict conditions. The police unit, UPAC, was created two years ago in the wake of corruption scandals.

Others linked to the superhospital investigation have been released on hefty bail amounts, but Giroux said there were special circumstances in Pamela Porter's case.

"The court has decided there are reasons to maintain her in detention," Giroux said.

She has been detained since being arrested by authorities in Panama on May 26th.

The Porters were arrested separately last month in Panama on an Interpol warrant. She agreed to return to Canada to face charges.

Meanwhile, Arthur Porter remains in a Panamanian prison and is fighting his extradition to Canada on the grounds his arrest was illegal because he has diplomatic immunity.

Porter was never formally employed as a diplomat for his native Sierra Leone, but held the role of a volunteer goodwill ambassador.

Arthur Porter, the former head of the Security Intelligence Review Committee faces several charges related to alleged scams in the awarding of a $1.3-billion Montreal hospital contract, one of Canada's largest public works projects.

He has said previously that he's done nothing wrong.

Others charged in the superhospital case are former SNC Lavalin senior executives Pierre Duhaime and Riadh Ben Aissa; McGill University Health Centre executive Yanai Elbaz and his brother Yohann; and Jeremy Morris, the administrator of a Bahamas-based investment company.