Cybercrime: trial of two brothers halted due to long delays

Court proceedings against two brothers accused of having committed cyberattacks on three large Canadian companies as well as having had in their possession firearms fell on Friday because of the excessively long delay in the legal proceedings.

• Read also: Cybercrime: Two Montreal brothers in the dock

“The Tribunal has no evidence of any complexity of the file, which could have justified such a long lapse of time in the communication of evidence or other substantial interventions in the file,” said Judge Joëlle Roy in a decision rendered Friday in Montreal. .

The brothers Félix and Jacob Costanzo-Peterson, now aged 25 and 27, had been in the crosshairs of the police since 2018 for having attempted to hack into the loyalty program of the Canadian Tire company in 2017. They were also allegedly at the origin of cyber incidents in the computer systems of BMO and Simplii Financial the following year.

During a search in August 2018, the police reportedly discovered a cache of firearms.

30 months of waiting

Since January 2020, the two brothers had faced a variety of charges, including possession of weapons and offering to transfer weapons via the Internet, as well as unauthorized use of a computer and identity theft.

Except that the first available date offered to the parties to start the trial was placed next June, more than 30 months after the start since the filing of the charges.

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For such cases, the Jordan judgment, which limits the duration of legal proceedings, provides for a ceiling of 18 months, the decision specifies.

If the prosecution tried to evoke the pandemic to explain the heavy delays by inviting an expert to demonstrate that the causes extended more during these years, the magistrate quickly dismissed this possibility in the present case.

Deficient evidence management

Rather, it notes “deficient” management of the evidence, while the defense only had access to the full evidence in May 2021, 16 months later.

For example, due to a confidentiality clause demanded by the prosecution, the two brothers could not receive the evidence or consult it without the presence of their lawyers.

“This position required adjustments and debates where the management judge issued an order modifying this rigid approach, in particular by pointing out that defense lawyers are not “babysitters”, “can we read.

The stripping of documents, attributable to the prosecution, also caused additional delays, notes the court document.

“Nor are there any exceptional circumstances that could explain such an overrun of 12 months”, insists the magistrate in her decision.

Thus, the judge decided to put an end to the proceedings, since no delay was caused “solely or directly” by the defence.

“The charges that were brought against our clients were serious and had serious consequences for them. Their constitutional rights were violated, and it was essential for our team to do everything necessary to protect their rights,” reacted the defense lawyers, Ms.and Chris Mediati and M.and Hovsep Dadaghalyan.

The prosecution has 30 days to appeal the case.

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