09/09/2014 07:52 EDT | Updated 11/09/2014 05:59 EST

Union to pay legal fees of accused Montreal firefighters

The union representing Montreal firefighters will pay for the legal costs of its members who have been criminally charged.

The Montreal Firefighters Association made the promise today, three weeks after Montreal City Hall was ransacked. Hundreds of municipal workers had gathered before a public council meeting to protest against the government’s proposed changes to their pension plans.

“We believe everyone in a society is innocent until proven guilty. Our members deserve to be properly represented. It is the role and the base of a union,” said Chris Ross, a union spokesman.

Forty-one firefighters face criminal charges — including assault, unlawful assembly and mischief. They will appear in court next month.

Thirty firefighters are suspended indefinitely, without pay.

Investigation flawed, union says

The Montreal Firefighters Association alleges the internal and criminal investigations are politically-motivated and were botched.

It says the city manipulated and hurried the results of the investigations to target firefighters.

“We were clearly concerned by some of the comments made by elected officials which seemed to indicate the conclusion of their investigation was concluded before it was even made public,” Ross said.

City officials said the charges were laid after the prosecutors office reviewed the evidence.

"There are people who say what they want, but I trust the judgment of the population. A job was done — it was well done. I don't think you can accuse people who did a good job because they are professionals," Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre said.