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G20 protesters loot from a Yong Street store in Toronto on June 26, 2010. (Ryan Enn Hughes For The Globe and Mail/Ryan Enn Hughes For The Globe and Mail)
G20 protesters loot from a Yong Street store in Toronto on June 26, 2010. (Ryan Enn Hughes For The Globe and Mail/Ryan Enn Hughes For The Globe and Mail)

Toronto court set for G20 crush Add to ...

The stage is set for a crush of people to descend upon a Toronto courthouse Monday as more than 300 people charged with offences related to the G20 summit are set to appear, along with their families, supporters and lawyers for what will be a marathon session of mass appearances.

As 303 people have appeared in court to face their various charges over the past three months, they have all had their return dates set for Monday at the same courthouse. It will be one of the largest mass court appearances Toronto has ever seen, according to Toronto Police G20 investigator Detective Sergeant Gary Giroux.

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"If you're out (of custody) you'll be appearing. If you're in you're appearing physically, in custody or by video," he said.

Det. Sgt. Giroux said the cases will be spread over three courtrooms, but people close to the case say it is unclear whether the cases will be processed in an assembly-line fashion, or how long they might take. All agree it will take hours to get through all of them.

Other than a few people who are in custody and scheduled to appear by video at 11:30 a.m., most people have 9 a.m. appearances.

Court staff are prepared for the hundreds of people expected to descend on the courthouse, but the sheer number of people set to appear presents some challenges, said Brendan Crawley, spokesman for the Ministry of the Attorney General.

"Arrangements have been made to make the process as efficient as possible for the accused, while maximizing access for the public and the media," he said in an email.

"We hope to maintain a smooth flow of people into and out of the courthouse, but given the number of accused scheduled to appear, it may take some time to deal with these matters."

Those appearing Monday are charged with a variety of offences stemming from the summit, where several people dressed in black broke off from a peaceful protest and smashed store windows and torched at least five police cars.

The majority of people appearing Monday were arrested at a protest at the Ontario legislature on June 26, Det. Sgt. Giroux said.

A group of alleged ringleaders who are charged with conspiracy to assault and obstruct police will also appear.

Police say the group also includes about 20 others arrested after police released photos of their "most wanted" suspects.

The Canadian Press contacted several lawyers representing the accused but many said they would not comment on an active case.

Lawyer Adam Weisberg, who represents a client charged with conspiracy said the expected delays could affect the defendants' rights to speedy trials.

"That's the main concern that I have with so many people charged," he said.

Mr. Weisberg said he will not bring this up with a judge yet until the Crown decides how everyone will be prosecuted, or if they will be prosecuted at all.

One lawyer who represented a G20 accused at bail court said some of the defendants will be showing up to court Monday without lawyers.

"The feeling I'm getting is a lot of people are going to show up unrepresented because I guess there's this belief out there that the Crown's going to be dropping charges," said the lawyer, who did not want to be named because he no longer represents that client.

He said others may not show up at all, which could lead to warrants issued for their arrests.

Det. Sgt. Giroux said he expects several of the defendants to ask for French-speaking judges and Crown prosecutors because they are from the Montreal-area.

While lawyers prepare their time inside the courtroom, a group called G20 Mobilize is preparing to support the accused people outside court.

It has put out an Internet appeal on behalf of out-of-towners who require a place to stay in Toronto, as well as transportation to and from the courthouse on Toronto's outskirts. The online plea also included a request for food to be donated for those expected to be waiting for hours at the courthouse.

The group is holding fundraising barbecues and dances in Toronto, Saskatoon, and San Francisco to raise money for legal costs.

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