Riot Charges Stayed Against OCAP's Clarke

"It's nice to know that finally we've got a situation where I don't think (the prosecution) are going to be able to proceed and the second trial isn't going to happen," Clarke said in an interview.

In staying charges against Clarke, the judge agreed with the defence argument that the second trial took too long to begin. The first trial ended in a mistrial May 11 after two months of evidence and five days of jury deliberations.

The judge will deliver a written reason within the next 10 days, ``but we think largely on that issue he granted the stay," Clarke said, calling it a "victory."

"What we primarily wanted to do was to mount an effective legal defence and prevent them from disrupting our work by jailing people and therein lies enough of a victory for us."

Attorney General Michael Bryant declined today to comment on the case. Ministry spokesman Brendan Crawley said the office wants to review the judge's written decision before considering an appeal, which must be launched in 30 days.

Clarke, 48, was charged with inciting the bloody riot June 15, 2000, outside the legislature that left dozens of demonstrators and as many as 42 officers and nine police horses injured.

The fierce hour-long clash erupted when a delegation from the crowd of anti-poverty demonstrators, union supporters and homeless people were denied their demand to address the legislature.

Clarke was arrested a month later after police seized tapes of the incident to identify the instigators.

Also arrested were Gaetan Heroux and Stefan Pilipa, who faced lesser charges of participating in a riot.

In June, a judge ordered a retrial for Clarke but determined it wasn't in the public interest or worth the time and expense to put Heroux and Pilipa back in court.

"In the end, this massive operation which involved huge police and Crown resources, which was all about vilification and criminalization, proved in the end to backfire," Clarke said earlier Tuesday outside court.

"The notion that it (the government) was going to be able to create monsters and fiends out of us and criminalize us totally fell apart."