Saturday, 12 November 2011

Attacks on Montreal lawyers lead to mistrial in cabbie murder


Violent intimidation tactics targeting Montreal lawyers appear to be working. A judge declared a mistrial Wednesday in the case of a murdered cab driver after the defence counsel suddenly quit. Joseph La Leggia, said to be despondent over the savage beating last Friday of fellow lawyer Gilles Dore, withdrew "for medical and personal reasons," Judge Michael Stober announced in court. La Leggia had himself been badly beaten outside his home last December, the third lawyer so targeted in the past 12 months. The lawyer represented Nigel John, accused of second-degree murder in the Nov. 2009 death of taxi driver Mohammed Nehar-Belaid. The judge discharged the jury when La Leggia's co-counsel said they couldn't continue in La Leggia's absence. "This is an exceptional situation," said Crown prosecutor Helene Di Salvo. "We never expected that to happen in the middle of the trial, but there were no other options." The legal community has been on edge because of the three unsolved attacks. Last Friday lawyer Gilles Dore was beaten into a coma with a baseball bat outside his Montreal home. He represents three bikers facing trial for murder and gangsterism. Last month, the home of business litigation lawyer Thomas Kiriazi was targeted by Molotov cocktails. On Tuesday, someone left a suspicious package at the home of Montreal civil lawyer Bogdan Catanu. But fears were eased when police said the package was not meant as a threat and was simply an empty suitcase that had been dropped off by a bystander.

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