Speedier trial for Quebec man charged in alleged plot to overthrow Haitian government
The resident of Lévis, Que., accused of planning a terrorist act to overthrow the Haitian government in 2021 will face trial sooner than expected.
The prosecution filed a privileged indictment against Gérald Nicolas, 51, at the Quebec City courthouse on Tuesday.
This means the Crown has nixed the preliminary hearing stage and the case is automatically transferred to the Superior Court to hold a trial by jury, making to the legal process speedier.
Nicolas was not present at the courthouse Tuesday. His new lawyer, Noémie Tremblay, represented him instead.
In court, Tremblay declined to comment on the privileged indictment procedure. In April, Nicolas will have to be present in court to set the dates for his trial.
In documents filed Tuesday by the prosecution, it says the trial should be completed by May 17, 2025.
On leaving the courtroom, the federal prosecutor refused to tell Radio-Canada what led to the privileged indictment.
"As it is a privilege of the Crown, I will not comment on why this procedure was done," said Henri Bernatchez.
According to the provisions of the Supreme Court's Jordan decision, a trial must take place within 30 months (two and a half years), failing which an accused may seek a stay of proceedings for unreasonable delay.
Nicolas had called for a preliminary hearing, expected to last four days, but the Court of Quebec did not have the availability to hold it in the short term.
His case was to return to court in June, leaving little time for a preliminary hearing before the fall.
Nicolas, who was charged in November 2022, faces three counts, namely of having left Canada to facilitate a terrorist activity, of having facilitated a terrorist activity and of having provided property for the same purpose.
The offences were allegedly committed between April and June 2021.
During his court appearance in November, Nicolas said that the charges stemmed from a plot by a former lover. This woman has also filed a complaint against him, concerning the sending of intimate images. He admitted his guilt to the prosecution and is awaiting his sentence in this case.
The RCMP says the terrorism charges stem from an Integrated National Security Enforcement Team (INSET) investigation, which began after an exchange of information with local police in Lévis, on Quebec City's south shore.
The investigation, which began in July 2021, revealed Nicolas allegedly planned to stage an armed revolution in Haiti and ultimately seize power, police said.