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4 Montreal officers charged after years-long probe into internal affairs unit


MONTREAL — Four Montreal police officers have been charged following a years-long criminal probe into allegations that members of the force's internal affairs unit embellished or fabricated evidence against lower-ranking colleagues.

Quebec provincial police, in a news release issued Friday, do not identify the officers or the charges they are facing.

The investigation stemmed from allegations made in 2017 by two former senior Montreal police officers, who said they were forced out of the service in 2013 after trying to blow the whistle on corruption in the city police.

Giovanni Di Feo and Jimmy Cacchione said at the time that members of the force's internal affairs department embellished or fabricated evidence against lower-ranking officers who fell out of favour.

In response, Quebec's Public Security Department took the city's police service under administrative supervision — a kind of tutelage — and assigned ex-deputy justice minister Michel Bouchard to investigate. His November 2017 report concluded the internal investigations unit — tasked with probing complaints against police from the public and from within the force — protected certain officers while targeting others.

Some cases were hidden from prosecutors to avoid criminal investigations, other cases were opened against officers, seemingly without any reason, Bouchard wrote in his report. Investigations were alleged to have been launched "on suspicions that were not justified, or worse, for oblique reasons or biases tied to vengeance."

The scandal led to the ouster of then-police chief, Philippe Pichet.

The Public Security Department created a mixed force led by the provincial police and the province's independent police watchdog, known as the Bureau des enquetes independantes, to investigate further. At its peak, the force counted 43 members, including both sworn officers and civilians.

The objective of the probe was to see if the internal affairs division of the Montreal police force was conducting investigations according to the law. 

Provincial police said Friday the four Montreal officers were charged after investigators analyzed 1,020 files in the case, adding they will not comment further because the prosecutor's office has laid charges.

The prosecutor's office didn't immediately return calls Friday from The Canadian Press.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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