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Alleged hate criminal to undergo psychiatric test

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The Palais de justice courthouse in Montreal. (Wikipedia photo)

The Montreal man accused of making an online death threat against Jewish children and other hateful comments about Jews has been ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

A Court of Quebec judge made the decision on April 17, after Robert Gosselin’s lawyer described how her client had recently been seen in a hospital emergency department, while going through a mental crisis.

Sara Daoust Laverdiere told the court that doctors had found him agitated and with a weak grip on reality. Gosselin is to be assessed at the Philippe Pinel Institute, a psychiatric hospital that specializes in criminal cases.

The court ordered that the report on his state of mind be submitted by May 21.

Gosselin, 56, who was arrested in October and released on bail, has not entered a plea. He has no criminal record.

He was charged on Oct. 26 with three counts under Section 319(2) of the Criminal Code of Canada, which states that, “Everyone who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of … an offence punishable on summary conviction.”

On Oct. 24, Gosselin allegedly posted a series of violent and offensive anti-Semitic comments on the Facebook page of the daily newspaper Le Journal de Montréal.

Most disturbingly, he allegedly made an explicit threat against Jewish children. Gosselin allegedly wrote in French that he would “eliminate Jews by killing a whole Jewish girls’ school. That’s not a threat, it’s a promise!”

He also allegedly wrote: “A good Jew serves as firewood” and “There is no one more anti-Zionist than me! And I will surely kill!”

Gosselin is also accused of making threats of physical harm against the children of singer Céline Dion.

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On Oct. 26, he was released on a $500 bond and ordered not to use social media and to keep the peace. While the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) was pleased with the swift action of police, it felt the conditions of Gosselin’s release were too lenient.

Many members of the Orthodox Jewish community also felt that Gosselin should have been detained and have been fearful for their children’s safety.

In December, the prosecutor requested that his bail conditions be stiffened to include a restraining order that would prevent him from going near any school or synagogue.

In January, a judge agreed and banned him from going to Jewish schools and synagogues, or communicating with such institutions.

Gosselin has been under the surveillance of the Montreal police force’s Hate Crimes and Incidents Unit.

At his brief April 17 appearance, Gosselin appeared more serene than he had at earlier times, when he looked dazed. Dressed in a black-and-white hoodie, jeans and red athletic shoes, he said almost nothing and quickly exited the courtroom with his lawyer.

CIJA’s Quebec public affairs director, David Ouellette, who was present at the hearing, said the case may seem to be dragging on, but that Gosselin has a right to due process. CIJA, which is conducting a national campaign to combat online hate, has no standing in the Gosselin case.

If convicted of the three counts against him, Gosselin faces a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.