MONTREAL — A judge has put off a decision on a bail request from one of three men accused in an alleged abduction that triggered an Amber Alert in Montreal this week, telling the court on Friday she needs more evidence before ruling.
Two 21-year-olds and a 22-year-old — two of whom are brothers of the 16-year-old alleged victim — were charged in connection with the incident.
Quebec court Judge Joëlle Roy was expected to render a decision Friday in the bail application of the 21-year-old brother but instead asked for more evidence, including a full statement from the victim to police and testimony from the parents to better understand the familial and cultural context of the case.
“I want more information, this is a unique dossier with a whole societal and cultural backdrop,” Roy told the court.
The judge extended the bail hearing into next week, when the other two co-accused will also make their bid for bail. A court order prohibits the publication of any information that could identify the minor victim.
During a hearing Thursday, the court heard the girl had been controlled by her brothers in recent months, with their mother's approval. The alleged victim had left her mother's home to go live with her father recently after a dispute, and the brothers believed it was their duty to bring her back to their mother's home, the Crown said.
Prosecutor Bruno Ménard recounted that she was forced to give her money to her brother, she was told how she could dress and she wasn't allowed to smoke electronic cigarettes.
He said the teen told police her brothers monitored her text messages and frequently turned off the Wi-Fi at home, causing her to fail school classes.
The 21-year-old brother forbid her to work at night and even went to her workplace against her wishes and told her employer she had quit. The victim alleged her mother threatened to take steps to verify whether she was still a virgin, according to the Crown's account.
Montreal police have said that just after 11 p.m. on Monday, the teen was allegedly forced into a vehicle from her place of work at a restaurant in Kirkland, Que, a suburb in western Montreal.
The Crown says the brothers are alleged to have entered the restaurant and forcibly removed their sister, smashing her glasses and phone and assaulting another employee who tried to stop them. Much of the interaction was caught on video.
In the car with her 21-year-old brother, she told investigators, he removed her shoes and jewelry. The prosecutor told the court her brother threatened, "If you go to the police, don't worry, I have more than one way to shoot you in the head."
Major-crimes investigators elected to issue an Amber Alert early Tuesday, fearing for the girl's safety. Police tracked the cellphone of the 21-year-old brother and arrested him. The girl and the other 21-year-old accused turned up at a Montreal police station soon after the alert was sent out.
The 22-year-old brother was arrested by police later that morning.
The prosecutor argued the 21-year-old brother should remain detained because of the seriousness of the crime and because of the exercise of control over the victim.
The defence has countered that it was an unfortunate event amplified by the Amber Alert, noting the accused has no criminal record. The accused assured the court he was a good brother and would abide by conditions.
But Roy said Friday she needs a fuller picture.
“I also have a duty to protect a 16-year-old girl," Roy said. “I want a global portrait of the family and what’s going on.”
The case will resume Wednesday and Friday next week.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 30, 2021.
Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press