Bail decision coming Monday for blogger who touted Montreal gunman

MONTREAL — Prosecutors have opposed bail for a blogger alleged to have glorified the gunman behind Montreal's 1989 Ecole polytechnique killings, calling it one of the worst examples in recent memory of inciting hatred.

Jean-Claude Rochefort is charged with one count of inciting hatred towards women after investigators found what they described as "disturbing" writing under the pseudonym Rick Flashman on a "hateful, anti-feminist blog."

Rochefort, 70, been jailed since Dec. 5 — the eve of the 30th anniversary of the anti-feminist attack in which 14 women were killed.

"Quebec has a history here — the population everywhere, 30 years later, is still troubled by the massacre at Polytechnique in 1989," Crown attorney Josiane Laplante told the court Thursday.

Addressing the court against his lawyer's advice on Thursday, Rochefort described himself as a man who'd long feared feminists.

"All my life, I was afraid of the feminist power, there is always this fear of the Quebec man to lose our jobs, our privileges," he told Quebec court Judge Serge Delisle.

Rochefort made several rambling comments about being a political prisoner — a reference to his having spent a year in preventative custody a decade ago before eventually being acquitted on similar accusations.

He told the court he still harboured anger with the justice system over that 2009 detention without trial, and that his rights to freedom of speech were being trampled again.

Defence attorney Marc-Olivier Carrier argued that Rochefort's previous brushes with the law didn't involve violence, and while his writings may be described as shocking, he doesn't pose a threat to the public.

He noted that detention is an exceptional measure in criminal law, and granting his client bail wouldn't suggest he was innocent.

"It doesn't mean he's being acquitted, it just means that he'll regain his freedom while awaiting trial," the defence lawyer said.

Rochefort has been estranged from his family for the most part since his 2009 arrest and has not been in a relationship since 2004.

He offered $200 and agreed to cut his internet connection if granted his release.

Outside the courtroom, Carrier acknowledged his client's comments are an admission, and he expects the case will end up at trial.

"Often in a case like this, it will look at the nature of the crime and not whether he wrote the posts," Carrier said outside the courtroom.

The Crown told the court the complaint against Rochefort came from a professor at Universite de Quebec a Montreal.

Laplante said at the time of Rochefort's arrest, he told police he had "nothing left to lose."

Laplante opposed bail for Rochefort, citing a risk of recidivism given Rochefort's arrest in 2009 and his continued online writings, as well as the need to maintain the public's confidence in the justice system.

She added the court should consider that his writings might compel someone to act out.

"Mr. Rochefort uses the collective wound to spread a message to say, essentially, that (the Montreal Massacre) was a good thing," Laplante said.

Delisle will rule on bail Monday afternoon.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 12, 2019.

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