The judge of the city court ordered the detention of the former math teacher François Amalega Bitondo until his case is heard.
A former math teacher who recently protested COVID-19 vaccinations outside Montreal schools has been ordered to remain in detention to ensure he shows up for a trial outside the city courthouse.
François Amalega Bitondo, 43, a former teacher at Collège Jean-de-Brébeuf, was arrested Tuesday after refusing to wear a mask during a trial in Montreal City Court. He is charged with interfering with the work of the police in an incident at a grocery store in March.
When Amalega Bitondo refused to wear a mask on Tuesday, he was banned from entering the courtroom where his trial was to take place. The judge issued an arrest warrant against him, and Amalega Bitondo then waited outside the courthouse for Montreal police to arrest him.
The next day, Annie-Claude Chassé, another city court judge, heard arguments about whether the defendant should be released while his trial is pending. And on Thursday she ruled that he should remain in custody for his “categorical” refusal to wear a mask, as required in all courthouses in Quebec. It also noted that Amalega Bitondo was unable to provide a medical reason to support its refusal to adhere to the safety measure. He told the judge that he was afraid of masks and that he felt it was “torture” to have to wear one.
Chassé said she would try to hear his trial on Friday.
Amalega Bitondo has reportedly been fined more than $ 40,000 in total since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Earlier this week, he announced that he had been banned from Facebook until October 26 based on information he posted about the pandemic.
Amalega Bitondo was also present at several anti-vaccination protests held outside schools in Montreal this September.
He is acting as his own attorney and while arguing for his release on Wednesday found that he is currently indicted on four separate cases in the Joliette courthouse, accused of causing disturbance and disregarding at least two court orders to have. He told Chassé he managed to convince a Quebec court judge at the Joliette courthouse that he can go into his cases without wearing a mask, as long as he respects social distancing measures.
His criminal cases in the Joliette courthouse will be brought back to court in March.
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