Canada briefs – March 5

A Manitoba couple convicted of beating and killing a five-year-old girl have lost their appeal.

Court upholds murder conviction

WINNIPEG — A Manitoba couple convicted of beating and killing a five-year-old girl have lost their appeal.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the first-degree murder convictions of Samantha Kematch and Karl McKay.

Court heard during their trial that the couple regularly beat and neglected Kematch’s daughter, Phoenix Sinclair.

She little girl died after a final assault in the basement of the family’s home on the Fisher River reserve north of Winnipeg, and the couple hid her body, which was found months later in a shallow grave.

Kematch and McKay argued the killing was not deliberate and sought a lesser conviction.

But the Appeal Court judges ruled that first-degree murder was appropriate.

Top court denies Angels appeal

OTTAWA — The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear a constitutional challenge from two former Hells Angels.

Steven Lindsay and Raymond Bonner were the first people convicted under Parliament’s 2002 anti-gang law.

The Ontario Court of Appeal last year dismissed the challenge, upholding the convictions for committing extortion “in association with” a criminal organization.

The former bikers had sought leave to appeal that decision to the Supreme Court, but the country’s top court today dismissed that application.

At the pair’s trial in Barrie, Ont., in 2005 the Superior Court judge declared the Hells Angels a criminal organization for the first time in Canada.

The anti-gang legislation the men were challenging allows courts to impose up to 14 additional years in prison to anyone who commits a serious crime “for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organization.”

Contest angers women’s group

QUEBEC — The Quebec Women’s Federation is upset by a contest being organized by one of the province’s strip clubs.

It’s asking the Quebec City bar to cancel the promotion for free breast implants.

On May 23, the contest winner will be offered free surgery worth up to $7,000.

The bar owner, Johanne Dolbec, explains the promotion by saying her bar is trying to attract female clients on Sundays.

She says participants won’t have to get nude or participate in any erotic spectacle in order to win.

But the women’s federation says the contest still uses women’s bodies as an object for commercial purposes, and calls that regrettable.

Ringleader appeals sentence

TORONTO — The convicted ringleader of the so-called Toronto 18 terror group calls the life sentence he was handed “unduly harsh and excessive.”

Zakaria Amara has filed an inmate notice of appeal with Ontario’s Court of Appeal.

The document, filed this week, signals Amara’s intent to appeal his life sentence with no parole eligibility until 2016.

It indicates Amara wishes to have an appeal heard in writing rather than through oral arguments at the court.