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Trial dates set for Black's son in harassment case

Conrad Black (R) enters the Dirksen Federal Court Building for his fraud and racketeering trial with his daughter Alana Black (M), son Jonathan Black (L) in Chicago, Illinois May 15, 2007.

REUTERS/STEPHEN J. CARRERA/REUTERS/STEPHEN J. CARRERA

Trial dates have been set for Conrad Black's eldest son, Jonathan, who says he has been singled out for special attention and will plead not guilty to charges of criminal harassment, uttering threats and breaching bail conditions.

In an interview, Mr. Black said he wanted the case resolved as swiftly as possible, and insisted that only because of his father's troubles has an otherwise ordinary domestic dispute been catapulted into the spotlight, and generated such prosecutorial zeal.

"I'm pleading not guilty to all these charges, and so we'll see what happens," he said. "I did not threaten anybody, nor do I think this should have been a police matter. … Why I get so much attention … I think I have the answer. It's because my Dad is Conrad and he has a famous case."

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In a brief hearing at Toronto's Old City Hall criminal court Tuesday morning, two days were set aside: Dec. 15 and Jan. 17.

The charges against the younger Mr. Black were laid in January, and stem from complaints by a former girlfriend that after their relationship ended, he threatened her and left unwanted text messages on her phone.

Mr. Black, a 33-year-old bond trader, was freed on bail while awaiting trial on those charges. Police allege that he then began harassing his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend; he was arrested and charged a second time in March.

He did not appear in court, although shortly before the hearing, his lawyer, Calvin Barry, said he expected his client would attend.

On Sept. 6, his father, Conrad Black, will return to prison in Florida, near Miami, where he is to complete the final 13 months of a reduced, 42-month term.

Convicted in 2007 of three counts of fraud and one count of obstruction of justice over the misappropriation of $6.1-million (U.S.) at Chicago-based Hollinger International Inc., the fallen media mogul, now 66, has always insisted he was innocent of the crimes with which he was charged. Lord Black described his long-running battles with the U.S. justice system as "idiotic nonsense" in a recent newspaper interview.

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At The Globe and Mail since 1982, in assorted manifestations, chiefly crime reporter, foreign correspondent and member of the Editorial Board, Tim is now retired. More

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