Unexpected turnaround in the public inquiry into the death of Norah and Romy Carpentier when the lawyer representing the officers of the Sûreté du Québec opposes the filing of the report and the testimony of a retired police officer responsible for analyzing the operations of research conducted in July 2020, questioning its impartiality. The investigation could be suspended for the next two months.
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Alain Croteau’s testimony was one of the most anticipated of the public inquiry to shed light on the deaths of little Norah and Romy.
Before being mandated by coroner Luc Malouin to assess the work of the search teams, the retiree from the Sûreté du Québec who has twenty years of experience in field research had participated in a report on the program Enquête, broadcast in March 2022. He was very critical of his former colleagues, notably defending the decision to have moved the research even after having found a first trace of footsteps.
It is this speaking out that raises M’s eyebrows.e Daniel Rochefort, mandated to represent the Professional Association of Sûreté du Québec officers, i.e. the police officers who were in charge of field operations. According to him, certain recommendations raised eyebrows among its members, whereas Alain Croteau had not participated in the Carpentier file, but was present during certain debriefings.
The lawyer is therefore categorical, Mr. Croteau cannot be heard.
“For us, he does not have the qualities of an expert. He is not impartial,” invoked the representative of the association, when the expert’s testimony was to open.
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The Attorney General of Quebec, who represents the SQ and the Ministry of Public Security, also sided with Ms.e Rochefort, indicating that he had raised his discomfort earlier in the investigation regarding the impartiality of the witness.
To which Luc Malouin retorted that the discomfort shown did not amount to literally opposing the hearing of an expert the very morning of his testimony.
“I wish I had known before this morning,” the coroner remarked to the parties.
The lawyer for the family of the victims’ mother, Mr.e Jean-François Leroux, also raised his eyebrows when he heard the recriminations of the lawyers.
“This report has been sent for a long time and no one has written to the coroner about their intention to reject the report. Because that will be the consequence of not recognizing Mr. Croteau, it will be to reject his report, ”argued Mr.e Red.
Pause for analysis
This unexpected exit forced the suspension of the investigation, at least for the next month.
Coroner Malouin chose to give the parties 30 days to establish their position on Alain Croteau’s ability to be heard as an expert. Luc Malouin then gives himself 30 days to render his decision.
This means that the public inquiry could be suspended until May 21.
“I fully intend that we finish this investigation before Saint-Jean-Baptiste [24 juin]. There is a family and it is my priority,” insisted the coroner. “We will undo our schedules if necessary.”
The team from the coroner’s office will also work to establish a plan B, namely to find another expert in the event that the parties reject the testimony of Alain Croteau.
Returned to its 15th day of hearing, the public inquiry commission was to end this week with the testimony of two experts in field research, Alain Croteau and Gérald Malette, in addition to Dr.r Alain D. Lesage, psychiatrist. The mother of the little ones, Amélie Lemieux, must also speak again before the representations of the interested parties are heard.