[previous chapter] [start from the beginning] Nathalie sat in silence next to Marc, taking it all in. She was resigning herself to proceedings that would go from bad to worse, and that was even before she heard the news about Abdul Bédard-Lellouche.

“Marc, what do you think happened to him? I’m scared for Jeff, now! Should we ask for extra protection for him?”

“Oh, honey, I’m sure he’s well protected already,” Marc said, stroking her hair as he tried to soothe her frayed nerves. He was of course unaware that Abdul’s murderer had also been his extra protection, but how could he have guessed that? The authorities had not mentioned that detail, and were certainly going to do their best to avoid saying it in the future as well, seeing as it would sort of imply that they had been penetrated by organized crime. The minister would not like that.

“But what do you think happened?”

“I don’t know, and we may not be told until the trial is over. Wouldn’t want to influence the jury. But if I had to guess, I’d say it was either a suicide – the guy knew he was guilty and couldn’t face a trial and punishment – or he was dispatched for other reasons unconnected to this trial. Like maybe he was close to organized crime and they decided to take him out. Happens more often than most people realize.”

She looked genuinely surprised. How he loved her blissful ignorance right at this moment.

“Really?”

He smiled at her and hugged her tight. He would fight tigers with his bare hands to keep this woman safe, he would.

“Yes, it does. Gangs kill more gang members than all the rogue cops combined. Not that there are any rogue cops," he winked. "In fact, we’re quite happy most of the time to let the gangs clean up their own ranks by themselves, provided of course they don’t do it in crowded places or anywhere there’s people. We don’t talk about it in public much, and neither do the politicians, but as long as it’s just gang members getting hurt, we’re happy to look the other way…”

“Well. In a way that’s horrible, but I guess it makes sense. Anyway, I better go hit the loo before things start again. If it’s anything like yesterday it’ll be a while before we get a break. I’ll call Sylvie and check on the kids while I’m at it. I sure hope nobody at school is talking to them about any of this.”

****

It was just before noon when Rose Lieberman finished detailing the last piece of evidence she had from her long and thorough investigation into this “assisted suicide” underground business. She had made careful notes during her investigation and this painstaking care and attention to all the details, no matter how small, was paying off now. Her testimony was clear, thorough yet concise, and easy for non-cops to understand. She projected an air of impartial professionalism in all that she did, but deep inside she was burning to see the perpetrators rot in jail for the rest of their lives for what they’d done to these poor people.

The judge thanked her for her testimony and advised her to remain at the court’s disposal for cross-examination by the defense and also to answer any question the jury might have about the details of her investigation. Rose’s mother, who was sitting in a second-row seat, bristled at that suggestion. As if her Rosie hadn’t been clear!

“Your Honour the defense will not be cross-examining the witness,” Paul Smith rose to say.

The judge had anticipated such a statement and she motioned for Smith and the crown prosecutor to approach the bench.

“I think I know what your defense strategy is, counsellor, but I need to make very sure that you realize what you are doing. I do not want this case to be appealed later because of your unorthodox defense.”

“I understand, Your Honour, and do not wish any such thing myself, as it would not enhance my reputation either.” The crown prosecutor almost chocked when he heard these words. Wow, he’s either extremely honest or completely crazy, that one. He was dearly hoping for the former; it would make the prospect of an appeal less likely, for one thing.

“Would it please the Court to have me ask the witness a few questions anyway? My client understands the challenges his defense presents and he has agreed to let me handle procedure as I see fit.”

Judge Sandra Michaud, who was not known for her warmth, almost cracked a smile. “Yes, counsellor, please do that.”

And with a mighty knock of her gavel, she called for a lunch recess and announced the witness would be cross-examined after all.

[next chapter]