Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Gross Miscarriage of Justice in Canada

When I spoke with my mother this afternoon she told me about a gross miscarriage of justice in Toronto involving a store owner and a shoplifter.

Last spring, a man named Anthony Bennett stole $60 worth of plants from David Chen's store on Dundas Street West in Toronto's Chinatown. Bennett has a long history of shoplifting and is a crack addict to boot. In short, he is a menace.

When Bennett returned to the store an hour later, Chen had enough. He and two of his employees chased him, caught him, confined him with twine, threw him into a van and then called the police.

So how were Mr. Chen and his employees awarded? They were arrested and charged with assault, kidnapping, unlawful confinement and a weapons charge (Chen had a boxcutter in his possession but it was never used.)

Needless to say, the good people of Toronto were outraged at this nonsense and have rallied to Chen's defense. The Crown prosecutor (the Canadian equivalent of the District Attorney) has since dropped the kidnapping and weapons charges but Chen and his employees still face those assault and confinement charges. If convicted, they could face up to two years in jail.

As for Mr. Bennett, he was charged with petty theft and had his sentenced reduced to 30 days because he has agreed to testify against Chen and his co-defendants at their trial.

I can just imagine what Bennett's testimony might sound like:

I was high on crack and decided to steal some plants. I realize I didn't have enough so I went back for some more and the store owner got mad at me and chased me for no reason. He violated my rights.

The Montreal Gazette
has an excellent editorial on the Chen case:

Public opinion cannot justify any crime, and we do need protection against vigilante justice. But what crime did Chen intend to commit? This prosecution is so utterly perverse that it has already earned the justice system considerable contempt

Unless the Crown drops all charges, Chen and his employees are set to go on trial in June 2010.

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