To the elation of over a hundred jubilant supporters and after over three months behind bars, Robert Lovelace & the KI 6 walked free from the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, May 27th at Osgoode Hall, in Toronto. Extensive media were present inside and outside of court to report on the event.
The sentences for the seven protesters, all guilty of non-violent protests to protect their respective homelands, were reduced to “time served.” As well, the fines were “stayed” and, as with the former decision, no reasons were given. The panel of three judges presiding over the appeal requested our patience, stating that because the case was very complicated, their reasons would be released at a later date.
An officer guarding Robert asked the judges, “Does this mean that Robert is free to leave from the courtroom?” One of the judges confirmed that, “Yes ” he was free to go. The guard and Robert threw their arms around each other, as the guard congratulated him. The packed courtroom had, by then, erupted into cheers of joy.
When asked by a reporter if he had any comment, Mr. Smitheman, lawyer for Frontenac Ventures, said, “Ahhhhh, NO” and walked from the courtroom.
As with the first court session in Kingston, the courtroom was changed due to the public’s demand to witness the proceedings. “One of the numerous questions that the judges raised throughout the day was, “What had been the precedent for such lengthy jail terms and heavy fines?” said Donna Dillman of the Community Coalition Against Mining Uranium. “The judges were informed that other protestors had been sentenced to a week or two, and that this sentence and these fines were, themselves, precedent setting.”
At the outset, Smitheman reported that he would be arguing the appeal against the AAFN, but not against KI. While the lawyer for Ontario defended their position during the previous court cases, they chose not to argue the appeal.
The celebration continued at Queen’s Park where, on Monday, tents and teepees had been set up for an ongoing protest. Hundreds of supporters joined in the festivities.
A second round of contempt of court charges will be heard in Kingston on June 2nd against the Shabot Obaajiwan and Ardoch Algonquin. The more recent charges against 6 non-natives were dropped as of Monday, May 26th.
Lynn Daniluk 613-267-0539
Donna Dillman 416-274-9980