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Punish Now, Try Later
September 22, 2010 permalink
Julian Ichim and his fiancée Kelly Pflug-Back are being punished by bail restrictions. They are both active opponents of Ontario's children's aid societies, awaiting trial on charges related to the summer G20 summit in Toronto. There have been countless other cases in which a parent is accused of a crime. After a year or two of pending accusations during which a family is dismembered, the charges are dismissed for lack of evidence. In the Ichim/Pflug-Back matter, the crown seems more interested in pre-trial restrictions that in presenting evidence. So far, policy makers have turned a blind eye to opposition of both the violent and peaceful kind.
Lovers and kin bound by G20 charges
Leah Henderson and Alex Hundert aren't allowed to be alone together.
When they chat on the phone, a parent eavesdrops.
Texting? Out of the question. Henderson's forbidden from using her cellphone.
While the rules are reminiscent of an eighth-grade romance, they're actually bail conditions given to this common-law couple, two of the alleged ringleaders of G20 violence, and others such as Kelly Pflug-Back and her fiancé, poverty activist Julian Ichim.
“The idea is that we are not to have any unsupervised time together,” says Henderson, 25. “That's when we could conspire, I guess.”
So they don't conspire. Or anything else, for that matter.
“Well, it's not worth $100,000,” she says, referring to the bond posted by her family and friends.
Relationships aren't always easy. Especially when the state is your chaperone.
Pflug-Back knows this well. The 21-year-old faces 13 criminal charges related to G20 violence, including mischief over $5,000, conspiracy and intimidation of a justice official.
Released on $80,000 bond to her parents, she can't leave home without them.
“It's just basic house arrest,” she says when reached by phone. “I think the important thing is just making the best of it — trying to maintain a productive life, even if there are some restrictions.”
But those restrictions include a ban on private contact with Ichim, 30, a member of the Guelph activist group Sense of Security — a group Pflug-Back can't associate with.
Yet though their rendezvous must be supervised, their love defies authority.
“Even if something's challenging you can always deal with it,” Pflug-Back says cheerfully. “I'm just making the best of things.”
Family bonds are also being tested by the stringent restrictions placed on accused G20 conspirators.
Siblings Erik and Meghan Lankin were forbidden from being in contact with each other for nearly two months, after both were charged with conspiracy in connection with G20 violence.
“It was a real restriction on their family and how their family operates,” says defence lawyer Breese Davies, who represents Meghan.
Initially denied bail, Erik sat in jail for more than two months before being released on a $110,000 bond.
Now both are under house arrest at the homes of their separated parents — Erik at their father's, Meghan at their mother's.
Under their complicated bail conditions, they can see each other only when their father, mother, stepmother or uncle is with them.
“I wouldn't classify them as standard,” Bill Thompson, Erik's lawyer, says of the restrictions. “They're very strict, obviously.”
For the 19 alleged co-conspirators, specific bail conditions vary significantly.
Posting on Facebook is restricted for some. Cellphones are banned, but landlines are okay.
Some, like Jaggi Singh, must ask permission from their surety to leave home.
Others, like Erik Lankin, aren't allowed to leave at all, save a few specific reasons, like work, medical appointments, or to see a lawyer.
“As a group, they're all under very, very strict terms of bail,” says John Norris, the lawyer for Hundert, 30. “These are very significant limitations on their rights.”
Hundert and Henderson were released July 19 on $100,000 bail each. Shortly after their release, the Crown filed an appeal to revoke their bail.
Last Monday, Superior Court Justice Todd Ducharme ruled against that appeal.
However, on Friday, Hundert was arrested for participating as a panelist at a Ryerson University forum, violating his bail condition of not participating in a public demonstration. He appears in court Tuesday to set a hearing date.
So Henderson, who met Hundert while working in a First Nations community in northern Ontario three years ago, won't be seeing her forbidden love for some time.
Until then, Henderson is staying on point.
“It's an attempt to silence our voice,” she says. “I don't believe they are scared of what Alex and I will do ... they are concerned about our voice.”
Source: Toronto Star
Addendum: Charges have been dropped against Julian Ichim but not Kelly Pflug-Back. It is unclear from the article whether more charges are still pending against Julian.
Charges against G20 activist dropped
Julian Ichim, once considered by police to be a co-conspirator of G20 violence, had charges of counselling to commit mischief dropped by the Crown on Monday.
The 30-year-old anti poverty activist appeared in provincial court with many of the 19 people co-accused of organizing violence during the summit of world leaders in June.
More than half of the accused appeared in court Monday, while others were represented by their lawyers.
Ichim was originally one of the accused co-conspirators, since those charges were withdrawn he faces no further charges related to G20 violence.
Ichim was called before a packed courtroom, with more than half of the accused co-conspirators and their family and friends.
When the Crown announced it was withdrawing the charges against Ichim he turned to the court with a mockingly perplexed look.
“It just shows that everything they talk about is crap,” Ichim then announced loudly. The court broke into applause.
His fiancé, Kelly Pflug-Back, rose from her seat to embrace him. She faces a long list of G20-related charges, and under her bail conditions the couple is only allowed to have contact or speak on the phone when parents are present.
“Peace,” Ichim then said, pushing his way through the door.
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of it,” Ichim said, tearing up in the court parking lot. “I’m sick of the f****** fact that I can’t talk to my girlfriend without her mom there ... I’m sick of living with cops next to my door watching me. I’m sick of wondering, ‘is this person really my friend, or a cop.’“
He went on, accusing the justice system of rejecting democracy and trying to silence speech and ideas.
“F*** the system,” he shouted. “The fact that Alex Hundert is in jail is f****** bull-****.”
The court proceeding was a reunion of sorts for accused co- conspirators. They hugged and chatted like university friends returning from a school break outside the courtrooms. Under their bail conditions they are not allowed to otherwise associate with each other.
Each of the co-accused were given a new pre-trial appearance date of Nov. 29, except for Pflug-Back who will appear on Nov. 26.
Alex Hundert, another of the co-accused, is still in custody. He was led by police into the prisoner’s box.
Hundert faces additional charges for breaching bail conditions and, most recently, “intimidation of a justice system participant by threat.”
Hundert’s next court appearance is set for Nov. 16, where he will face charges that stem from an incident in a court parking lot after an appeal of his stringent bail conditions, in which the 30-year-old activist allegedly jotted down a Crown Attorney’s license plate.
John Norris, Hundert’s lawyer, would not comment on the latest charges against his client.
Hundert has been arrested three times in the last five months. He was picked up for the initial conspiracy charges prior to the G20, and was re-arrested in September for participating in a panel discussion at Ryerson University-which was deemed a violation of his bail restriction against participating in public demonstrations.
During Monday’s proceedings Peter Rosenthal, a lawyer for activist Jaggi Singh-who was not in court, argued for more disclosure of the evidence against his client.
Most of the accused, Rosenthal said afterwards, still haven’t been given access to the details behind the charges they face.
Source: Toronto Star