No charges for Quebec police over aboriginal sex assault claims
MONTREAL: Charges will not be filed against six police officers accused of sexually assaulting indigenous women in Quebec, although officials are not ruling out that the events occurred, prosecutors said Friday.
A spokesman for the prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to take the police officers to trial over accusations of sexual assault, abuse of power and intimidation brought forth by women in the small town of Val d’Or, about 500 kilometers northwest of Montreal.
According to the women, who came forward a year ago on broadcaster Radio-Canada, officers routinely picked them up from Algonquin communities near the rural town and forced them to perform sex acts.
Paid in cash or drugs
Some were paid in cash or drugs. If they refused, the women said they were physically assaulted or left in remote areas, their mobile phones broken, to walk home in the cold. Eight officers were suspended following the accusations, although two have since been reinstated. Based on results from an investigation which looked at 35 complaints, the public prosecutor declined to charge the officers. “There is insufficient evidence to bring charges,” a spokesman for the province’s Director of Penal and Criminal Prosecutions told a press conference.
However, the decision “does not necessarily mean that the alleged events did not occur,” he said. The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said it was “deeply concerned for Indigenous women in Val d’Or.” “Indigenous women need an outlet to voice their complaints and concerns against police. Without a safe place and process to do that, these incidents will continue,” said the group’s Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin. When contacted by AFP, provincial police declined to comment on whether the six agents would be reinstated and said they were determining whether to conduct a disciplinary investigation. Several dozen indigenous people gathered in peaceful protest in Val d’Or on Friday following the announcement. —AFP
NEW YORK: People walk near Trump Tower after the street was closed to foot traffic by police with barricades and officers at the entrance to the block at both ends for more than two weeks on Friday. —AFP