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Doubts arise on fair jury for ‘Mr. Three Per Cent’ at Quebec corruption inquiry

Photographers take pictures of Chairman France Charbonneau off the closed circuit television in the media room at the Charbonneau inquiry looking into corruption in the Quebec construction industry Monday, September 17, 2012 in Montreal.


Quebec's corruption inquiry is being accused of ruining the reputation of a former municipal party fundraiser and his chances of finding an impartial jury.

The lawyer for a man famously dubbed "Mr. Three Per Cent" at Quebec's corruption inquiry says the commission is playing fast and loose with his client's reputation.

Daniel Rock, the lawyer for Union Montreal fundraiser Bernard Trepanier, says his client will have trouble finding an impartial jury to hear his criminal case.

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Mr. Trepanier is facing charges of fraud, corruption, breach of trust and conspiracy stemming from a land deal in east-end Montreal.

He has also been a central figure in recent testimony before Quebec's Charbonneau commission.

Mr. Rock says the frequent mention of his client's name at the high-profile inquiry hasn't helped Mr. Trepanier in his criminal case.

The lawyer made the comments outside a courtroom on Monday during a hearing in the criminal proceedings. Mr. Trepanier and the other co-accused were not present.

"We have taken steps, we have written letters and asked them [the commission] to be prudent and as far as we can tell, the commission is not concerned [with] the rights of these people," Mr. Rock said.

"They publish his name, they go arrogantly with witnesses and it looks bad for everybody and they didn't have their trial yet."

Inquiry spokesman Richard Bourdon said the commission had no comment on Mr. Rock's allegations.

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Mr. Rock mused that he'll ask for the charges to be dropped if the case winds up before a jury.

The Crown wouldn't comment on the fact many of the co-accused in the case, including Mr. Trepanier, are expected to testify before the inquiry soon.

Mr. Trepanier's co-accused include Frank Zampino, an elected official and former head of the city's executive committee, and construction magnate Paolo Catania.

Their names have figured prominently during the Charbonneau Commission hearings, while details of the land deal have been discussed.

The Crown says a preferred indictment was filed in the case, which means it will go straight to trial.

Crown prosecutor Marie-Hélène Giroux cautioned that a trial is still probably a year away.

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"Not in 2013, in 2014 probably," Ms. Giroux said. "It's going to be [a trial of] several weeks."

Mr. Trepanier is currently in Florida. The judge put the case off until March 20 and ordered the accused to be present on that date.

With a report from Pierre St-Arnaud

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