André Boisclair was conspicuous by his absence on Thursday at the Montreal courthouse when his lawyer announced that he was abandoning his preliminary investigation.
The former head of Quebec Party is the subject of two separate trials with charges of a sexual nature against two alleged victims, who cannot be identified due to publication bans.
In the first case, he faces two charges, sexual assault with the participation of a third party and sexual assault with a weapon. The events reportedly took place in January 2014. Mr. Boisclair pleaded not guilty to these charges, for which he is liable to 14 years in prison.
In the second case, he faces a charge of sexual assault that allegedly occurred in November 2105, involving another complainant. In this second case, he will also go directly to trial.
If there had been a preliminary inquiry, the 55-year-old accused would have had to appear in court, as would the complainant. The Crown prosecutor, Me Luc Pagé, admitted that the fact of skipping the stage of the preliminary investigation took this weight off the shoulders of the alleged victim.
André Boisclair will therefore be put on trial. His lawyer, Me Michel Massicotte, specified that his client preferred to stand trial before a judge alone rather than before a jury.
The two files were postponed to November 18 for the form. The two trials will not take place until 2022.