Bail hearing for convoy organizer Pat King postponed abruptly, new charges need to be raised

OTTAWA-The latest bail hearing for Pat King, a key figure in the so-called “Freedom Convoy” protests, was unexpectedly postponed Thursday after the Crown announced he would face two new criminal charges.

King, 44, sighed heavily, rubbed his eyes and held his head in his hands as the Crown’s lawyer Moiz Karimjee stated he would be charged with obstruction of justice and perjury. The latter charge is for the crime of allegedly making false statements for the purpose of misleading a person authorized by law.

The right-wing extremist online influencer has been jailed since his arrest in February during the convoy’s occupation of Parliament Hill. He was already facing a series of accusations linked to his role in the protests that paralyzed Canada’s capital this winter and sparked copy demonstrations that blocked border crossings and triggered marches in cities across the country.

The protests were generally against measures taken to curb the spread of COVID-19, driven by misinformation and conspiracy theories about vaccines and coronavirus, and included organizers calling for the replacement of the federal government.

In addition to the new charges, King is charged with advising dishonesty, advising intimidation, advising obstruction of a peace officer, obstructing a peace officer, mischief, intimidation, advising on obeying a court order and disobeying a court order.

His first attempt to be released from custody was rejected on Feb. 25, when Ontario court Andrew Seymour ruled that he posed a “substantial likelihood” of recidivism if released and that giving King bail would raise doubts about the province’s criminal justice system. .

After hiring a new defense attorney, David Goodman, King tried to appeal the bail decision in an audit hearing that began Wednesday.

But that hearing was also abruptly postponed after Goodman – who appeared on video – had an apparent computer error. A female voice began to speak through his computer speaker, saying that his computer had been locked and that he should not try to restart it.

The episode was put under a restraining order, which Supreme Court Justice Graeme Mew lifted Thursday morning after Goodman told the court that everything was in order and none of his cases were compromised.

King is scheduled to return to court on April 19.

King livestreamed his own arrest on Feb. 18, the same day he posted videos online urging convoy protesters to lie to get past police checkpoints into downtown Ottawa and then urging supporters to co-camp from the area around Parliament Hill as The police moved to arrest protesters more than three weeks inside the occupation.

Neither King nor his former lawyer requested a restraining order – usually routine for bail hearings – during his first attempt to get out behind bars while awaiting trial. During that hearing, the Crown played clips from King’s online broadcasts, pondering over Prime Minister Justin Trudeau being shot and making seemingly racist statements. These contained a reference to a baseless conspiracy theory that claimed the existence of a desire to “depopulate the Anglo-Saxon race” because “they are the ones with the strongest bloodlines.”

A website that claims to have been set up by King’s family and friends is raising money for his legal defense. As of Thursday, a tracker on the site indicated that they had raised more than $ 62,000 and expected his potential bail to exceed $ 100,000.

King is among the most prominent convoy protesters currently facing charges in the Ottawa courts. Others include Alberta’s Tamara Lich, a spokeswoman for convoy and fundraiser who publicly urged protesters to “keep the line” during the occupation, and Saskatchewan truck driver Chris Barber, who led a group of truck drivers to Ottawa and condemned police actions during the occupation.

All three are among the respondents in a class action lawsuit demanding more than $ 300 million in compensation to Ottawa residents, businesses and workers affected by the demonstrations. A court ruling on Feb. 17 froze funds raised by convoy organizers, including “any and all” funds in King’s personal account and anyone raised through his efforts to raise money by selling “Freedom Convoy Tokens” online during the protests. Paul Champ, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told Star last month that King’s account contained about $ 75,000.

Ontario MPP Randy Hillier is also charged with nine alleged offenses associated with his role in the convoy, including assaulting an officer after he allegedly pushed a parliamentary security official during the February protests.

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