MONTREAL - A Quebec judge has decided that 51 Hells Angels members and sympathizers who face a wide variety of charges including gangsterism and murder will be tried in two different groups.
The accused were arrested in 2009 as part of the sweeping Operation SharQc.
"It is out of the question to have one trial with 51 people,'' Superior Court Justice James Brunton said Friday.
Brunton went along with a Crown proposal to have one set of legal proceedings for 29 accused from Quebec, Trois-Rivieres and Sherbrooke and a separate trial for those accused who hail from the Montreal area.
Brunton said he had considered a similar split in terms of numbers even before the Crown's suggestion, although he did not have the same geographical divisions.
Earlier in the day, a slew of defence lawyers had said they couldn't determine whether such a split would hurt their clients because the Crown had not given them all the necessary information, including the list of witnesses.
Brunton ordered the Crown to provide the information before Nov. 1 to allow the defence to complete its preparation.
Operation SharQc nabbed 156 suspects. The others have pleaded guilty to lesser charges.
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