The Judith Brassard Case (February 26, 2017)

Source: Le Soleil
Author : Elizabeth Fleury
February 26, 2017(Original publication in French on January 13, 2016)
Translation: Jasmine Soso

New hope for Judith Brassard who is imprisoned in Colombia

Quebec native Judith Brassard is serving a 28 year prison sentence for having presumably sponsored the death of her Colombian spouse.

The Canadian Association for Rights and Truth (CART ) is hopeful to see the new Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, Stéphane Dion, be more proactive than his predecessor with the case of Judith Brassard, the Quebecoise who has been imprisoned in Colombia for more than 7 years for a crime that she swears she did not commit.

The president of the association based in Montreal, David Bertet, met Stephane Dion by chance this summer during his electoral campaign.

“I informed him on Judith Brassard case, and he demonstrated a willingness to collaborate with our organization for the respect of human rights. He asked that we give him a complete report on Judith” indicated Mr. Bertet, adding that this type of interest had never come out of a meeting under Harper.

Interested by the role that Minister Dion could play, Mr. Bertet, whose association had begun to get involved in the case of Judith Brassard about a year ago, specified that there were multiple ways to intervene.

“The idea is that the Canadian government will show that they’re present, and preoccupied with the question of human rights in countries like Colombia. There’s a confidence to refute with this question, and minister Dion can provide representation”, valorizes Mr. Bertet.

The association that envisions new legal avenues for liberating Judith Brassard, equally counts on Ottawa for the holding of a possible trial that is “just and fair”.

“The Canadian government might not be able to directly intervene with the Colombian Justice system, but they very well can send an observer to the eventual process”, suggests CART ‘s president, who works with a local organization on these new legal avenues.

The Canadian government could also ask for a repatriation of its national, or to support a request of that respect, adds the CART president. “Except Judith would have to plead guilty, and that, she refuses to do” he specifies.

Made to be guilty

The mother is serving a sentence of 28 years in prison for presumably being an asset in the murder of her Colombian spouse, an orthodontist and member of a prominent family who was assassinated while leaving his office in December of 2006.

Judith Brassard and Felipe Rojas were married in Quebec in the middle of the 1990’s, and soon moved to Santa Marta, where they had two kids. During the time of the murder, Judith Brassard was currently in Canada, because the couple had just recently gotten divorced.

The murder was planned by a former paramilitary, John Osorio, who was the husband of the maid Katerine Pire, who was previously employed by the Rojas-Brassard family, and with which Rojas would have had an extra-marital relationship. Osorio, Pire and two other individuals were convicted for the murder of Felipe Rojas.

In court, Osorio and his wife testified that the murder was ordered by Judith Brassard, alleging that she wanted to get her hands on the life insurance of the deceased and have custody of the kids. 
However, they later retracted this statement. A registered telephone call that was deposited as evidence has further demonstrated that Osorio never had a discussion with Ms. Brassard the day before the murder, like he had declared in court during his interrogation.

Despite the couple’s retractions, the North Colombian justice, known for their corruption, decided not to dismiss their false testimonies and condemned the mother of the family with a heavy prison sentence.

No proof

In 2012, the Colombian Ombudsman published a report in which he confirmed there was no existing proof that Judith Brassard played a role in the murder of her husband. Which didn’t prevent the Supreme Court of Colombia from confirming the guilty verdict of the Quebecoise in the following year.

According to Brassard’s mother, Solange Harvey, her daughter is “very happy and optimistic” with the steps being taken by the association. “I had the pleasure of talking to her on the phone every two nights, which allows me to sense her conditions”, Mrs. Harvey specified in her email.

For the past year, Judith Brassard benefits from three consecutive days leave every two months. “Next march, it will be each month. This really does her well”, indicated her mother, adding that to keep up her morale, her daughter teaches English and music in the prison.