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article imageMan arrested on criminal libel charges for website posts

By Kim I. Hartman     Sep 17, 2010 in Crime
RCMP have arrested a man on criminal libel charges after messages critical of the Calgary Police were posted on a US website. He is accused of making false statements about two officers on the website and interfering with a homicide investigation.
"He made accusations against two Calgary Police Service members that not only injured their reputation, but interfered with an investigation -- allegations of perjury, corruption, destruction of evidence," Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Patrick Webb said Friday.
Calgary resident John Kelly is charged with four counts of criminal libel and one count of obstruction.
Postings on the website also accuse Calgary Police Service leaders of widespread corruption, reports the Calgary Herald.
RCMP have also alleged that Kelly, 53, represented himself as a paralegal to relatives of homicide victims in cases that were being investigated by Calgary police.
Sgt. Webb said it is rare for police to lay criminal libel charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. He said the RCMP have no legal power to shut down the U.S. website. He said they have asked the owners of the site in New York to voluntarily remove the postings.
The RCMP launched the investigation at the request of Calgary police. Kelly was arrested at his home on Thursday and was being held in custody pending a court appearance on Friday, according to a statement released by the RCMP.
Kevin Brookwell, a spokesman for the Calgary Police Service, said people have a right to state their opinions about police, but there are limits to what they can say. "You can't hide in cyberspace and make comments or allegations when they cross that line where they are starting to interfere with criminal investigations," Brookwell said.
"He had to be held accountable. That is where the line in the sand was drawn and that is where these charges are resulting from."
The Montreal Gazette reports the website is still up and running.
RCMP Supt. Randy McGinnis told the Gazette,."In my 29 years, I've never heard of an individual being charged under the Criminal Code for libel charges, defamation of character," McGinnis said during the news conference.
What makes Kelly's site libellous, said McGinnis, are the false allegations made against two city homicide investigators."It's the extent that he's gone to target and go after the members," he said."There's information that he specifically attacked the moral integrity of the members, not on just one occasion but on several occasions."
Charges include four counts of publishing libellous statements on the Internet against specific police officers between November 2009 and Sept. 4, 2010. He has been released on $1000 bail with multiple conditions that will apply to restrict him from use of the internet, reported CTV news.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police refused to name the officers involved in the written statement they released. Calgary police have also declined to identify the two officers named on the website or any details of the homicide case they are investigating.
More about Website owner charged libel, Rcmp charge man for, Royal canadian mounted police
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