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Supreme Court hears appeal of a francophone whose trial took place in English

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The Supreme Court of Canada will hear Franck's case Yvan Tayo Tompouba Wednesday in Ottawa.

  • Francis Plourde (View profile)Francis Plourde

Nearly 25 years after the Beaulac decision, which confirmed the right to a trial in the official language of one's choice, the Supreme Court of Canada is once again examining the issue. Hearings are taking place Wednesday to hear the appeal of a man convicted of sexual assault and who had not been informed of his right to a trial in French.

The charges against Franck Yvan Tayo Tompouba date back to December 2017. Aged 22 at the time, the British Columbia resident s he went to Kamloops to meet a young woman he had met on the Tinder application.

After a nightclub outing, both went to the plaintiff's house, kissed and hugged each other before going to bed.

In the middle of At night, the complainant woke up and realized that they were having sex to which she had not consented. In the days that followed, she filed a sexual assault complaint.

After an English trial, the man was convicted in 2019, receiving a 90-day prison sentence.

Like Franck Tayo Tompouba – who has two children in Canada and helps his family in Cameroon – was a permanent resident, a sentence of more than six months could have led to his deportation from Canada.

In my opinion, any longer sentence would have had an unfair impact on the children of Mr. Tayo Tompouba and his family in Cameroon, wrote Judge Leonard Marchand in his decision.

According to his lawyers, Franck Yvan Tayo Tompouba was not informed early enough of his right to procedures in French. It is this question that will be at the heart of the hearings in the Supreme Court of Canada on Wednesday.

According to section 530 of the Criminal Code relating to the language used during a trial, an accused whose language is one of the official languages ​​of Canada may submit a request to be tried in the language he or she prefers.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hNZoeU">However, during his first appearance, the accused had not been informed of this right. On appeal, the court rejected the argument that Mr. Tayo Tompouba's rights had been violated.

The Supreme Court of Canada, however, agreed last January to hear the challenge, which could lead to a new trial.

For the law professor Benoît Pelletier, the case raises several important legal questions, nearly 25 years after the Beaulac decision, considered a turning point in access to justice in French in the country.

I think the cause is perfectly suited to re-examine the Beaulac ruling, he explained in an interview last January.

In 1999, Jean Victor Beaulac , a French-speaking British Columbian, was granted a new trial after being found guilty of premeditated murder during a trial that took place in English.

The Supreme Court ruled that, even though he spoke English, his right to a trial in the language of his choice had been violated.

Most The country's highest court could also rule on other issues in the Tayo Tompouba affair, believes the professor at the University of Ottawa.

What is at issue here is the right to be informed of the possibility of having the right to have a trial in the language of one's choice, and what the consequences are when one does not is not informed in a timely manner, explained Benoît Pelletier last January.

The Supreme Court's decision could have a significant impact on access to justice in both official languages, said Mr. Tayo Tompouba's lawyer, Jonathan Laxer, last winter.

The hearing is expected to last one day. The Supreme Court of Canada will issue its decision at a later date.

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116