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Frank Zampino is accused of having awarded contracts in exchange for paying large sums to the Union Montreal party. (Archive photo)
Accused in a case of granting municipal contracts in exchange for political financing, the former president of the executive committee of the City of Montreal Frank Zampino will finally have to stand trial. The Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the judgment rendered at first instance in this case concerning Mr. Zampino and five co-accused.
On September 30, 2019, Judge Joëlle Roy, of the Court of Quebec, issued a stay of proceedings, affirming that Mr. Zampino's constitutional rights had been violated during the investigation, in particular by the investigation. granting of a wiretap warrant which targeted conversations that the former right-hand man of Mayor Gérald Tremblay had had with his lawyer.
Judge Roy thus invalidated the wiretapping warrant obtained by the Permanent Anti-Corruption Unit (UPAC) and, thereby, all of the evidence obtained by this means.
In their decision, the judges of the Court of Appeal Manon Savard, François Doyon and Patrick Healy believe rather that this stay of proceedings should not have been pronounced and affirm that the judge of first instance based herself on erroneous considerations in law and committed manifest and decisive errors of fact.
One of these errors, according to the judges, consisted of asserting that the scale of the investigation methods and their intensity constituted an unreasonable and abusive invasion of the private lives of the respondents, when at most they sought to attack effectively to a complex case.
Certainly, according to the law, the confidentiality of conversations between a client and his lawyer must be respected by the police and cannot not be admitted as evidence at trial.
However, Judge Roy made errors by not taking into account all the evidence and made unfounded criticisms regarding the execution of the wiretapping warrant by the police, finds the Court of Appeal.
Judges Savard, Doyon and Healy point out, among other things, that not all communications were deemed privileged. Nuances of this type are important when it comes to determining whether a stay of proceedings is the only measure that can be adopted, adds the Court of Appeal.
In these circumstances, the State's conduct does not have the gravity that the judge describes in his reasons for his conclusion [according to which] the abuse of procedure justified the stay of the proceedings.
A quotation from Extract from the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Quebec
A new trial must therefore take place, rules the Court of Appeal, which also prohibits the prosecution from using the evidence obtained by wiretapping during this new procedure.
Frank Zampino was arrested in September 2017 along with seven other suspects. According to the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, the former president of the executive committee awarded around thirty municipal contracts to engineering firms between 2001 and 2009 in exchange for the payment of large sums to the Union Montréal party.