Judge keeps Lepine blogger in jail

MONTREAL — A Quebec judge has denied bail to a man who started a blog bearing the name of Polytechnique killer Marc Lepine and allegedly made threats against women on it.

MONTREAL — A Quebec judge has denied bail to a man who started a blog bearing the name of Polytechnique killer Marc Lepine and allegedly made threats against women on it.

Jean-Claude Rochefort will now remain behind bars until the end of his case.

Quebec court Judge Claude Leblond, in denying bail on Thursday, called Rochefort’s writings anti-feminist and anti-women and said the comments showed a “visceral hatred of women in general.”

Rochefort has pleaded not guility to one count of uttering threats against women in general after a police investigation into his blog named after Lepine, who killed 14 women and then himself in a 1989 rampage in Montreal.

A Montreal police investigator testified he visited Rochefort’s apartment after receiving a complaint in October, in part to seize a weapon that the federal gun registry had turned up.

Sgt.-Det. Marco Caya said he tried to reason with Rochefort that day, informing him that his blog posts had incited fear among various women’s groups.

It was the second time police had visited Rochefort about the blog since June 2009.

“I suggested to him that he stop writing,” Caya said. “I also strongly suggested that he stop posting photos.”

Caya said Rochefort, 61, admitted to authoring the blog posts under three pseudonyms, and said grudgingly that he would be more careful with his words starting on that day.

But he said the pattern didn’t change.

Caya said he would note 19 further posts between his visit on Nov. 2 and Rochefort’s arrest on Dec. 4.

Rochefort was taken into custody just days before the 20th anniversary of the Polytechnique massacre on Dec. 6.

The blog remains online and untouched since Rochefort’s arrest and police have been unable to convince its American host to take it down.

The controversial blog, written in English and French, claims Lepine has evolved into a folk hero because his name resonates even today. The contents include a combination of written texts and doctored photos of Lepine.

Leblond read excerpts from some of the entries. He called them troubling musings that indicate the Quebec man is obsessed with winning a war against feminists and has a fascination with mass shootings.

Among the entries Leblond referred to were a recipe for a massacre and passages defending Lepine’s actions as normal.

Rochefort appeared to have known his arrest was in the offing. The editor-translator told the court he emptied his bank account to pay his rent through July 2010 just in case.

Defence lawyer Guillaume Langlois argued that his client presented a minimal risk — no prior record apart from a breach of conditions in 2004 for which he served a day in jail.

Langlois also said the Quebec provincial police cyber crime unit had long known about the blog, although no one bothered to arrest Rochefort until shortly before the anniversary.

Caya denied that police were under any pressure to make an arrest, even though the blog had created a considerable buzz and warranted heightened security for a commemorative event.

Langlois argued that limiting his access to computers would be sufficient to deter Rochefort, who hasn’t shown he’d act on the musings.

Leblond noted that Rochefort displayed signs of being cyber-dependent and didn’t stop even when asked to.

“Why would he stop?,” the judge asked.

Langlois said a debate over freedom of expression is likely to play out during any future trial.

“They are opinions,” Langlois said outside the courtroom. “They are extremely brutal but they are opinions nonetheless.

“I think the same debate will play out during the trial.”

But Crown prosecutor Cynthia Gyenizse said the threat was clear, “because of the violence in the text that he posted on his blog and the anti-feminist words talking about (inciting) violence against all women.”

Rochefort is also charged with possessing a firearm that was unregistered.

The case returns to court on Feb. 16.