Mistrial declared in child abduction case

Judge has no choice after mother fires lawyer, demands 'diverse' jury

Tony Lofaro, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Tuesday, April 04, 2006

A Superior Court Justice called a mistrial yesterday in the trial of a 36-year old woman who is accused of abducting her four children and taking them to Europe.

Judge Charles Hackland said he had no choice but to order a mistrial in the case, which had been going on for a week.

Last Friday, Marie-Emilie Chartier said she was dismissing her lawyer, Bruce Engel because he and the Crown prosecutor "have forgotten the jury (members) are not representative of the Canadian community."

Yesterday, defence lawyer Jean Claude Dubuisson was in court to take over Ms. Chartier's case.

"Mrs. Chartier called me and requested that I act on her behalf. She told me she had some difficulties (with the case)," said Mr. Dubuisson in an interview. "I will be meeting with her (today) and review all the issues," he said, adding he believes his client would prefer to face a more diverse jury.

Ms. Chartier, who does not have legal custody of her four children, has pleaded not guilty to four charges of child abduction after taking the children to Sweden last year

Ms. Chartier is accused of breaching provisions of a custody order and four counts of falsifying passport documents.

She sparked several Canada-wide warrants and international police alerts in March 2005 when she took the children overseas.

She surrendered to Swedish authorities in early May, and she and her children returned the following week.

When she returned to Canada, she was released on bail and required, among other restrictions, not to contact her children, who are under the legal guardianship of their grandmother, who lives in Ottawa. Ms. Chartier has only restricted access to the children. A date for the new trial will be set Apr. 28.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2006