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Quebecer accused of hate refused bail

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Profile picture of Valentin Auclair on Russian social media website VKontakte.

A Granby, Que., man charged with inciting hatred and genocide against identifiable groups, including Jews, will remain in detention for the duration of his judicial process, a Quebec court judge ruled on Feb. 20.

Justice Julie Beauchesne refused the request for release by Valentin Auclair, 38, who has been in police custody since he was arrested at his home on Jan. 6.

Auclair was apprehended for his alleged online promotion of white supremacist and neo-Nazi views through the Russian-based VK (VKontakte), a social media platform similar to Facebook.

Before his arrest by Granby police, CEGEP professor Xavier Camus, who monitors extremist activity in Quebec, alerted the media to the existence of Auclair’s numerous Internet posts. The material Auclair made public was increasingly violent and graphic in the months preceding his arrest, including allegedly calling for the annihilation of certain minorities and immigrants, whom he called “vermin.”

Auclair allegedly expressed admiration for Nazism and Hitler, including writing, “The concentration camp is the greatest Nazi innovation. That permitted the extermination of a pile of Jews. That is good riddance.”

In November, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, he allegedly wrote, “That’s the day our good Fuhrer acted legitimately to defend against the Jewish cancer that was eating away Germany. That’s the beginning of the liberation of Europe from the Jew.”

By that point he was also allegedly ranting about the need to take up arms “to protect our nation against foreign occupation” and touting the website The Armory as a place to acquire them.

He allegedly glorified Quebec mass murderers Marc Lépine and Alexandre Bissonnette, as well as the Norwegian Anders Breivik, as “saints.”

Auclair has no previous criminal record and is not believed to be associated with any extremist group.

He is facing two counts of incitement to hatred and one count of advocating genocide – a rarely laid charge – which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

At his first court appearance on Jan. 7, a judge authorized that Auclair undergo a psychiatric evaluation, at the request of both the defence and prosecution.

After six days with the CIUSSS de l’Estrie, the court decided Auclair was fit to stand trial, but the judge granted Auclair’s lawyer’s request that he spend another month in a psychiatric facility to determine if he could be held criminally responsible if convicted.

Following that assessment, it was ruled that Auclair could be held criminally responsible.

In her decision not to let out Auclair before his trial, Beauchesne noted that, even though he had been visited by police in October and warned against hateful Internet activity, he continued to engage in it repeatedly. She said there is a probable chance he would do the same if released now.

Beauchesne also cited “concerns for the security of immigrants.” She further said, “It is difficult to think that someone wants the death of people without knowing what that is … The accusation is serious, seems founded and the accused faces a long imprisonment.”

His lawyer argued that Auclair should be released with conditions, which was opposed by the Crown.

He is due back in court in March.

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