The trial against Jaggi Singh in connection to the Sept. 9 protests at Concordia resumed last week after it had been postponed when the Crown tried to challenge a decision made by the judge not to allow the introduction of the Global documentary Confrontation at Concordia as evidence.
Last Friday, the Crown brought in Concordia security shift supervisor Steven Houde to testify. Houde recounted an altercation he said he had with Singh on Sept. 9, 2002.
He testified that around 12:45 p.m. on Sept. 9, he came up on the Mezzanine using the elevator and was standing close to Java U’s doors to assess if more security was needed.
Houde said he was setting up barricades (display panels on wheels) in front of the closed glass doors of Java U after the caf’s manager agreed to close it for security purposes when Singh started yelling at Houde.
Houde says Singh was telling him that he was “not allowed to close off student space” and that “students are allowed to come and go as they please.”
At that point, Houde said Singh tried to drag one of the barricades away from the door. Then, he said Singh gave him a very simple push on his chest to get him out of the way.
Houde said he tried to explain why he was putting up barricades when he heard shouting again, turned around and saw Singh running towards him to push him again. Houde pushed Singh back twice before Singh left towards the escalator.
Houde testified he filed a complaint against Singh with police on Oct. 28, 2002. Houde also said he did not file a complaint the same day because he “was not physically hurt” and “did not feel it was necessary.”
He only filed a complaint after head of security Jean Brisebois reminded him it was a department policy to report any assault on a security guard.
In his cross-examination, Singh tried to establish there was never any animosity between Houde and himself prior to Sept. 9 when Singh used to go to security to get the key for Q-PIRG’s office late at night before 2000.
Singh also questioned Houde about this knowledge of the location of security cameras around Concordia. Houde indicated with a marker on a floor plan of the Mezzanine that there was a roving camera right above Java U.
Singh tried to establish the camera-captured footage of a previous argument Houde had with Yves Engler and later of the protestors on the escalators but not the alleged assault.
Singh asked Houde, “Do you feel pressured by Mr. Brisebois?” but Houde replied he did not at all.
Later on during Singh’s cross-examination, it was established the camera was actually stationary. Houde also admitted he was in Brisebois’ office when he wrote up his police report on Oct. 28. Singh asked why Houde was in Brisebois’ office and Houde replied that sometimes they need confidentiality.
In a later interview, Singh said he believes the complaint against him is “completely bogus” and the reason there is no tape of the assault in evidence is that the altercation never happened.
“To be clear, I think Houde is in a very difficult situation. He is under pressure from Brisebois and other senior administration people to lay this complaint.”
Singh also said he questions Jean Brisebois’ credibility because he said that when he crossed-examined him earlier last week, the former RCMP officer was “all over the place” in his testimony of the alleged assault.
When reached on Tuesday for comment, Brisebois said he couldn’t comment specifically on the trial but said, “I don’t think I was all over the place. I think I was consistent in my testimony and I think I’ll let the court decide if they believe me or not.
“I know I’m not a liar, I know I’m an honest person. If someone’s got a different opinion. We’re in a democratic country and he’s allow to have his opinion on me.”
However, Singh commented, “At a previous hearing, Brisebois gave the distinct impression to an internal tribunal at Concordia that he spent his time, all of his time, on the lobby and control room of Concordia during Sept. 9. But, at my trial, suddenly he appears on the Mezzanine… so that he could somehow witness an assault from 60 feet away.”
Singh was charged with obstruction of justice, conspiracy, assault, and illegal assembly and arrested four months after the Sept. 9 protests.
The trial will continue with two more witnesses for the Crown, a police officer and another security guard.