10/01/2015 09:57 EDT | Updated 10/01/2015 10:59 EDT

Julian Fantino Facing Assault Charges Over Alleged 1973 Incident

Fantino will "vigorously'' defend himself, says his lawyer.


TORONTO — A lawyer for federal cabinet minister Julian Fantino says an assault complaint dating back four decades has been made against the Conservative incumbent.

Mark Sandler says Fantino will "vigorously'' defend himself against what he describes as "completely spurious allegations.''

Sandler confirmed that a Toronto construction worker, John Bonnici, has pressed two private assault charges against Fantino that date back to when he was a police officer.

He says the surfacing of the complaint 42 years after the alleged incident and during an election campaign raises "obvious questions'' about the Bonnici's motivation.

The Toronto Sun reported that Fantino is accused of assault with a weapon and assault causing bodily harm against Bonnici.

Bonnici told the Sun he was arrested in a raid in 1973 that was overseen by Fantino, and was allegedly roughed up by officers. He also alleges an officer poured ketchup down his buttocks and further alleges Fantino spread the condiment by stroking the outside of his pants with a police baton.

None of Bonnici's allegations have been proven in court.

Police generally lay criminal charges but anyone who has reasonable grounds to believe someone has committed an offence can go to a Justice of the Peace or provincial court judge, who determine if a summons or warrant should be issued to compel an accused person to come to court to answer the charge.


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