The crown is moving ahead with trials against four of the so-called “Fight Fees 14″. The trial date was set after the Crown withdrew charges against nine of the 14 originally accused of confining five administrative workers in their offices during a sit-in last fall.A video taken during the sit-in shows protesters filling a hallway in Simcoe Hall and shouting at police officers trying to remove them from the building.
While the Crown has set a trial date for Sept 28, defense lawyers for the four say the Crown may have failed to disclose evidence that could weaken its case.“We don’t think it’s complete, frankly. We think there’s other disclosure that’s outstanding,” said Mike Leitold, lawyer for three of the accused. “But the Crown takes the position that all things have been provided that are relevant.”Nine other defendants recently signed the agreement in order to end legal proceedings. About 30 people participated in the Simcoe Hall sit-in last March, to protest a 20 per cent residence fee increase at New College.The remaining four accused are Oriel Varga and Chris Ramsaroop, both employees of the Association of Part-Time Undergraduate Students, and Farrah Mirandah and Liisa Schoffield of the Ontario Public Information and Research Group. Leitold represents all of the above except Varga, who is represented by Selwyn Pieters.Katie Wolk, an APUS staffer speaking on behalf of Varga, told The Varsity that the four have refused to sign a peace bond agreement—similar to a restraining order—which they consider an infringement on their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.The terms of the peace bond are that the individuals may not enter Simcoe Hall without giving 24 hours prior notice, and may not demonstrate inside of U of T buildings. The bond stays in effect for one year.Previously, Varga was jailed overnight for refusing to sign highly restrictive bail conditions which, among other things, barred her from speaking to her co-defendants, with whom she works in her capacity as APUS executive director. Varga was successful in arguing down the stringent conditions.There remains a fifth accused, a minor being tried in youth court, but those charges will be formally withdrawn later this month, said Leitold.For the other four, the trial will proceed unless the Crown chooses to withdraw the charges.
Noting that charges might be withdrawn if evidence surfaced that weakened the Crown’s prospect of convicting the four, Leitold discussed what he characterized as gaps in the disclosed evidence.“There are certain officers’ notes that we’re surprised are not in existence,” he said. “The [police] officer in charge of the investigation doesn’t have any notes, according to him, so I’m surprised by that.”Leitold added that both he and Pieters held concerns over disclosure. “Mr. Pieters has list of things [missing from the Crown’s disclosure].”Pieters declined to comment on the case before its resolution.