The sexual assault trial of former Parti Québécois MP Harold Lebel began Monday with the defendant’s acquittal and jury selection, setting the stage for the start of testimony, which will be presented Tuesday.
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The former politician, who was expelled from the Parti Québécois caucus shortly after his arrest was announced in December 2020, pleaded not guilty as previously announced by his lawyer, Mi Maxim Roy.
A jury of 10 women and four men was selected by the court.
Due to the context surrounding the pandemic and the possibility that some judges may recuse themselves at one point or another, judge Serge Francoeur announced that a total of 14 people, two more than the usual number, had been selected, jeopardizing progress. of inquiry.
“Fourteen will be selected to ensure that the full jury can deliberate,” the judge explained, but emphasized that only 12 jurors were going to participate in the final deliberations provided by law.
Exemption for candidates
Judge Francoeur exempted some candidates for various reasons, including one woman who said she was uncomfortable dealing with a sexual assault case when her mother was abused.
The trial on the merits will officially open Tuesday morning with the judge’s instructions to the jury and the start of the presentation of evidence. It is still unclear whether Mr. Lebel will testify.
The case will be heard for two to three weeks.
Discontinued in 2020
Harold Lebel was arrested at his home in Rimouski on the morning of December 15, 2020.
After questioning, the complainant, protected by a publication ban on his identity, was formally charged with sexual assault.
The MP was praised by his colleagues and his community, and soon after party leader Paul Saint-Pierre Plamondon announced his arrest, Harold Lebel was excluded from the PQ caucus.
His arrest caused a shock wave in Quebec politics.
Harold Lebel announced last March that he would not run for Rimouski, who has been elected in the riding since 2014.