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Nathalie Normandeau walks to a courtroom in Quebec City on June 9, 2016.

Jacques Boissinot/The Canadian Press

The fraud-related trial of former Quebec deputy premier Nathalie Normandeau and five co-accused will proceed despite a lengthy delay in the case getting this far, a judge ruled Monday.

The accused were seeking a stay of proceedings due to what they perceived as an unreasonable delay since their arrest in March 2016.

But Quebec court Judge Andre Perreault said while a delay of two years surpasses the 18-month ceiling set out by a Supreme Court of Canada ruling, the Crown demonstrated it was necessary due to the complexity of the case.

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The trial is expected to begin April 9.

The accused were arrested by Quebec’s anti-corruption unit following an investigation authorities said involved political financing and gifts allegedly being exchanged for public contracts.

The charges include fraud and breach of trust.

Normandeau, 49, was an influential minister who served as a Liberal member of the legislature from 1998 to 2011 and held key cabinet positions including municipal affairs, natural resources and Canadian intergovernmental affairs.

She served as deputy premier under Jean Charest between 2007 and 2011.

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