May 7/96: Gustafsen Lake-Defenders confront Montague


Gwethalyn Gauvreau
for FreeMedia
Tuesday, May 7, 1996

NEW WESTMINSTER, B.C. - On the second day of the pre-trial hearing before Judge Josephson who will also be the trial judge, Sergeant Peter Montague took the stand and answered questions from the three defense lawyers and two of the Ts'peten Defenders about RCMP media releases widely distributed to the public during last summers 'standoff' at Gustafsen Lake. The Judge agreed to grant the Defense lawyers and two Defenders great latitude in questioning Sgt. Montague. Supporters were gratified to learn a great deal of previously unknown material very favorable to the defendants. Unfortunately since the point of the hearing was to formulate questions to be put to prospective jurors, an interim publication ban has been put in place until the next court date of May 15, 1996. The May pre-trial hearing will concern itself about possible changes in bail restrictions in terms of fishing rights for some of the defendants and a pre-trial conference with Judge Josephson, Defense Lawyers Don Campbell, Sheldon Tate and George Wool and the two unrepresented Defenders, Shelagh Franklin and Glen Deneault.

Although there is an interim press ban, the mainstream press was there in full force and took a great many notes. It is clear that they have been made aware that the trial will expose many of the RCMP media releases as "mis-representations" or - in my own words - lies - meant to inflame the public and demonize the camp members. Those of you who reserved judgement about the Defenders because of your previous experience of media bias will find your decision to wait well rewarded. At this point it can be said with certainty that almost all of the events that were reported during the Standoff either did not happen at all or happened in a totally different way much more favorable to the Defenders. It is my wish that this trial ends with a call for an investigation of the RCMP's actions during the 'standoff' and possibly with attempted murder charges laid against those who were ordered to shoot at unarmed people. When the ban is lifted I will be able to distribute more in this public forum.

The Defenders remain in good spirits despite the long court sessions and continue to rely on the truth to vindicate them. When the press ban was suggested by the Crown, Glen Deneault speaking for all the Defenders said, "When we were in the camp, no one heard our side of the story. Now that we are in court, we want the truth to come out, we want our side of the story to come out. We are not afraid of the truth at all." All the Defenders agree that they do not want any press ban and see the trial as an opportunity to finally reach tell thier truth.

The jury selection will begin June 1, 1996 with the trial tentatively planned for June 17th or later.

If you have time free in June and would like to volunteer we will need vehicles and drivers for the elders, drummers to lift the spirits, happy souls to share good feelings and foodies to help cook and serve the daily meals at the court house. Celebrations and ceremonies are planned and I will have more details later.

Thanks to everyone who is here in spirit,


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