La Ligue des Droits et Libertés and the Black Coalition of Quebec join the Justice for Anas Coalition to demand that a coroner’s inquest into the death of Anas Bennis, called in June 2008, be allowed to proceed as planned. They also continue to press for a full and independent public inquiry into Anas’ death at the hands of the Montreal Police in December 2005.
Montreal, October 21, 2008 – The Bennis family is challenging a legal action filed by the Montreal Police Brotherhood against coroner Rudel-Tessier to prevent the coroner’s inquest from taking place. In June 2008, Quebec’s chief coroner, Louise Nolet, ordered an inquest into the shooting of Mohamed Anas Bennis. However, in late August, the Montreal Police Brotherhood launched a legal action to have the inquest cancelled.
The Bennis family’s lawyer, Me Alain Arsenault, will be depositing a preliminary motion to dismiss the Brotherhood’s action, in the hopes of allowing the coroner’s inquiry to proceed in a timely fashion. “The Bennis family, unless proven to the contrary, will have to conclude that the ties between officers of different police forces has allowed certain police officers to get a hold of documents to better defend themselves. These are documents that the Bennis family has never able to obtain, even though they may have allowed them to better understanding what happened on December 1, 2005 and to gain a better understanding of their rights.” These documents include: the report of the Quebec City police force’s investigation into Anas’ death and the legal opinion of the Crown prosecutor relating to his decision not to file criminal charges against the police officers involved in Anas’ death.
The impetus for the legal action by the Police Brotherhood, according to them, is that all of the answers to the family’s questions have already been made available. Yet, many of the family’s questions remain unanswered: why has the knife that Anas supposedly used — according to the police version of the events — never been produced or undergone forensic evaluation? Why has the video of the scene never been made public? Why have the police officers Bernier and Roy never had to testify publicly or been cross-examined on their version of the facts? Najlaa Bennis, Anas’ sister and spokesperson of the Justice for Anas Coalition, asks: “if the police have nothing to hide, why are they working so hard to stop a public inquiry from taking place?”
According to Dan Philip, president of the Black Coalition of Quebec: “The Bennis family, as well as the public at large, have a right to know what happened on the morning of December 1st, 2005. In all cases where police commit acts of violence or cause death, there should be a public and open inquiry into what happened because we cannot depend on the police to investigate the police as currently happens in Quebec.”
For almost two years now, the Bennis family, along with the Justice for Anas Coalition, has been demanding a full, public and independent inquiry into Mohamed Anas Bennis’ death on December 1, 2005. Anas, a 25-year old Canadian of Moroccan origin, was killed by Montreal police officer Yannick Bernier after attending morning prayers at a mosque just minutes from his home in Côte-des-Neiges.
Najlaa Bennis: (514) 994-4089
Dan Philip, Black Coalition of Quebec: 514-489-3830
Me Phillipe Robert de Massy, La Ligue des Droits et Libertés: 514-849-7717; 514-715-7727