Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Canadian national faces manslaughter charges in Feb. 5 crash that killed three

Police say Quebec adventurer crossed the center line in tragic accident that left three young Mexicans dead

Mérida, Yucatán --
A young man from Quebec who together with friends decided to explore the Americas by vehicle in the the summer of 2011 stands charged with three counts of vehicular homicide, according to French and Spanish press accounts published today in Canada. Under U.S. criminal law such charges are frequently referred to as manslaughter, which may be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the circumstances and the jurisdiction where the event occurs. There is no precise equivalent under Mexican law.

The Mexico Gulf Region Reporter (MGRR) first reported on this case Feb. 5, about 15 hours after the incident which has now led to the filing of serious criminal accusations by Mexican prosecutors: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/six-canadians-involved-in-fatal.html.

Jean François Beaudet was at the wheel of the group's van on Saturday evening, Feb. 4, when he crossed the center line and collided head on with a taxi, investigators say. The cab driver, 26, and his front seat passenger, 27, were killed instantly. A third man in the rear seat died hours later at a local hospital. All three men were trapped in the crushed taxi and had to be extricated by emergency responders. They were Yucatán natives.

The Canadians, who were on their way to Cancún at the time of the collision, sustained only minor injuries.

The crash occurred about 8:30 p.m. on a road known as the Kantunil–Holcá highway. The area is about half way between this capital city of Yucatán and the Chichén Itzá archaeological site, near Valladolid.

Beaudet, 25, is being held in lieu of $55,000 USD bail (about $687,500 Mexican pesos). Bail in Mexico is typically cash only, especially in the case of foreign nationals, or persons without substantial property or well-established connections to the community.

One of Beaudet's companion's told a newspaper, "We were hopeful at first, but everything is dragging on. Thinks are going so slowly. We have no intention of trying to leave, but we wanted them to release him (Beaudet)."

"We had an attorney at the very beginning, but he didn't help us much, so we fired him. Later the state (Yucatán) gave us a court-appointed attorney, but he wasn't any better," said Beaudet's friend.

Mexican criminal proceedings, especially in serious cases, are notoriously slow. They are multi-staged affairs where the initial determination of legal "probable cause" -- that is, whether sufficient evidence exists to hold a suspect for a full trial -- often does not occur until many months after the person's arrest. Mexico is now in the process of adopting so-called "oral" trials which, in theory, will resemble American and English prosecutions. But the nation has almost no experience in such matters, and Mexican attorneys, who are unlicensed by any governmental authority in contrast to their U.S., British and Canadian counterparts, are just beginning to learn rudimentary trial procedure and criminal defense strategies and techniques which have been in use in common law countries for centuries.

Canadian diplomatic officials have confirmed Beaudet's detention, and are said to be monitoring the case closely with the assistance of local consular officers here.

Note: The content of this post is based exclusively upon Canadian press accounts which have been published over the past 24 hours in both French and Spanish. MGRR thanks those readers who forwarded news links.

Update Mar. 24 - Canadian released in triple homicide case: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/canadian-released-in-triple-homicide.html.

Major legal changes on their way to Mexico: http://mexicogulfreporter-supplement.blogspot.com/2011/11/major-legal-changes-on-their-way-to.html.
Yucatán implements new "oral" trial system: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/11/yucatan-and-all-of-mexico-about-to-get.html.
Former U.S. TV producer will stand trial in Cancún murder case: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/former-us-tv-producer-of-survivor-bound.html.

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