You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

More than a dozen inmates at Bordeaux jail diagnosed with COVID-19

The Gazette logo The Gazette 2020-04-30 Paul Cherry, Montreal Gazette
a sign in the middle of a park: There are now 14 inmates in sector E at the Bordeaux jail in Montreal who have tested positive for the coronavirus. There are now 14 inmates in sector E at the Bordeaux jail in Montreal who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

No inmates or detainees at the Bordeaux jail were tested for the coronavirus until last week, when an inmate was sent to a hospital for another reason and tested positive.

According to testimony presented during a hearing at the Montreal courthouse on Wednesday from Carmen Landry, director of services at the province’s largest detention centre, the test was the first time either an inmate or detainee had been tested for the virus. The inmate was tested on April 24, the same day he arrived at a hospital.

The positive test prompted the regional health board to send staff inside the jail on Gouin Blvd. to conduct tests. They revealed 14 inmates in sector E — where men are serving prison terms — have the coronavirus. The man who was sent to the hospital was also incarcerated in sector E. Landry said 10 guards who work in the jail have also tested positive.

Richard Tawil, a defence lawyer who requested the hearing, noted that according to Landry’s testimony, some of the kitchen workers at the Bordeaux jail are inmates in Sector E, where the infected inmates are held. There are more than 1,100 men detained or incarcerated at the institution.

Tawil was representing Johnny Samuel Videz-Rauda, 31, in his request to be released from the jail — officially referred to as the Montreal Detention Centre — because he fears contracting the virus. He has already spent 16 months behind bars waiting for his case to go to trial. Videz-Rauda was part of a group of eight men who were arrested in 2018 by the Montreal police following an investigation into four illegal marijuana grow operations.

“They are doing so little to verify for the virus,” Tawil said of the situation at the jail. “It’s not the staff’s fault. It is the (provincial government’s) measures that are in place. They are putting everyone’s safety at risk.”

Last week, La Presse reported that one detainee and four guards at the jail had tested positive for the virus. In reaction, Mathieu Lavoie, president of the Syndicat des agents de la paix en services correctionnels du Québec (SAPSCQ), issued a release on the weekend criticizing the provincial government for not taking the situation seriously.

Superior Court Justice Guy Cournoyer is scheduled to decide on Videz-Rauda’s request on May 8.

Shortly after Videz-Rauda was arrested on Nov. 23, 2018, he renounced his right to have a bail hearing. He sought to have a quick trial by not requesting a preliminary inquiry. However, one of his co-accused did not want to skip that stage in the case and demanded one.

When the Montreal police arrested people allegedly tied to the network they alleged that one of the growers had a permit to grow medicinal marijuana but was selling his product on the illicit market.

One person who has since pleaded guilty to growing marijuana for the group was sentenced to a 45-day prison term, while another who pleaded guilty to less serious charges was sentenced to an unconditional discharge last month.

Videz-Rauda argued in his motion that “the conditions of his detention are extremely more difficult since March 13, 2020, the start date of exceptional measures related to (the coronavirus).”

Videz-Rauda noted that he has already served 16 months behind bars and that it now seems unlikely he will have a Quebec Court trial within the next two months. In 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada set 18 months as the maximum delay a person should have to wait for a provincial court trial.

A 26-year-old West Island resident who spent a week detained at the Montreal detention centre after March 15 swore out an affidavit in support of Videz-Rauda’s claim the jail is not sanitary. He described his cell as “very dirty and clearly not washed” and alleged staff lied to him by saying he had been tested for COVID-19 while he had a fever at the jail.

pcherry@postmedia.com

Related

Note to readers: We know the speed and volume of coronavirus-related news is overwhelming and a little frightening. To help with that, we will dedicate a Montreal Gazette reporter each day to devote their time to synthesizing the most important coronavirus-related news, especially as it relates to life in Montreal and Quebec. Follow the updates for April 29 right here. All our coronavirus-related news can always be found at montrealgazette.com/tag/coronavirus.

Sign up for our new email newsletter dedicated to local coronavirus coverage at montrealgazette.com/coronavirusnews.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Gazette

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon