Sunday, June 20, 2010

3 men charged in Ottawa bank firebombing

By CHARMAINE NORONHA, Associated Press June 19, 2010

TORONTO – Police on Saturday charged three alleged members of an
anti-establishment group in the firebombing of an Ottawa bank last month,
an attack that has raised fears of violence during the upcoming G-8 and
G-20 economic summits.

Police said the accused are members of an obscure activist group known as
the Fighting For Freedom Coalition, or FFFC-Ottawa, which has threatened
to protest the summits next weekend in Toronto and Huntsville, Ontario.

The suspects, Roger Clement, 58, Claude Haridge, 50, and Matthew
Morgan-Brown, 32, all from Ottawa, were arrested Friday. The three
appeared briefly in an Ottawa court Saturday and were ordered held in
custody until their next court appearance later this month.

Ottawa Police Chief Vern White said Clement and Morgan-Brown were charged
with arson causing damage, possession of incendiary material, use of
explosives with intent to cause property damage, and mischief in the
firebombing of a Royal Bank branch on May 18.

Police said Clement and Haridge were also charged in a Feb. 1 attack on
another Royal Bank branch in Ottawa, where two people were seen damaging
windows and automated teller machines with rocks and a hammer.

Haridge was also charged with mischief and careless storage and handling
of ammunition after police seized hundreds of rounds — including numerous
military-caliber bullets — during a Friday raid, police said.

White described some of the material seized as "high-end sniper
ammunition," but said there was no known connection to the upcoming
summits.

Authorities also indicated further charges could be laid under the federal
anti-terrorism law.

"That part of the investigation is ongoing," said Royal Canadian Mounted
Police assistant commissioner Francois Bidal.

The RCMP and the Ontario provincial police were also involved in the
investigation of the firebombing of the Royal Bank branch in Ottawa. No
one was injured in the early morning attack when the bank was closed. The
bombing caused an estimated $490,000 in damage to the bank, which remains
shut.

"The incident in May had the potential to be much more devastating than it
was," White said.

The attack was recorded on video and posted online. A statement issued by
FFFC-Ottawa said the Royal Bank was targeted because of its sponsorship of
the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, which the group said was held on
"stolen indigenous land."

Canadian authorities have been gearing up for potentially large-scale
protests and possible violence during the G-8 and G-20 summits that will
see the heads of the world's leading economies descend on Ontario.

RCMP and Toronto police service officers involved in summit security were
at the Saturday news conference, eager to talk about preparations.

"We are on fairly high alert for the G-8-G-20," said Chief Supt. Pat
Teolis, director general of major events and protective services for the
RCMP. "We're really prepared for anything."

The Canadian government is spending $900 million on security that includes
19,000 security personnel who will be involved in the meetings, including
2,500 soldiers and 2,400 private security. A $5-million metal-linked fence
will encompass the summit site, covering a three-kilometer (1.8-mile)
radius, right in the middle of downtown Toronto.

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