MONTREAL – A Quebec student activist was arrested while heading to his sister’s funeral Monday, an act his lawyer described as “completely inhumane.”
Mathieu Girard is the person who had discovered the lifeless body of his sister, who died unexpectedly.
On Monday, Girard was riding with relatives when he was pulled over on the highway on the way to Saguenay, Que., for the funeral. He was stopped near Montreal.
Girard’s lawyer said he could face criminal-mischief charges for acts committed during student protests. Lawyer Veronique Robert, who represents many protesters, said people accused of mischief will usually receive a summons by mail or be asked to sign a promise to appear.
“Nothing justifies an arrest like this on Highway 20 — especially given the fact that he was on his way to his sister’s funeral and the police officers knew it,” Robert said in an interview.
“That’s not hopw you arrest someone for mischief. These aren’t people wanted for murder. They’re not drug-traffickers. It’s not (notorious criminal) Jacques Mesrine.”
She said her client would have been easy to find and she can’t understand why he was arrested under such circumstances.
Police confirmed a student protester was arrested and will appear in court Tuesday — although they wouldn’t say his name.
When asked why such an arrest would be made before a funeral, police said that when they pull someone over on the road they have no way of knowing whether that person might be trying to flee.
The arrest was made near St-Hyacinthe by provincial police, at the request of the Montreal municipal force.
The lawyer, Robert, said she spoke on the phone with one of the police officers at the scene to explain the circumstances, and to plead with her to hold off on questioning Girard.
“She hung up in my face,” Robert said.
It was not clear late Monday whether Girard might be freed and able to make it for the funeral.