PROVINCE OF QUÉBEC
PRESENT : THE HONOURABLE ROGER BROSSARD, J.S.C.
The twenty-fourth day of February, in the year one thousand one hundred and four, personally came and appeared:
Monsieur JACQUES HÉBERT, publisher, domiciled at 220, Mont Prévert Street, Beloeil, P.Q., 40 years old, having duly been sworn on the Holy Evangelists, doth depose and say the following :
EXAMINED BY Me JULES DESCHÊNES, Q.C.
Legal Counsel to the Commission :
Q Monsieur Hébert, I have filed sooner this morning a book as exhibit number 13 titled « I Accuse the Assassins of Coffin ». Could you tell the Commission if it is you who are the author of that book?
A Yes, I am the author.
Q Now, I also note that this book has been published by Les Éditions du Jour, Montréal. Could you tell the Commission if you have an interest in Les Éditions du Jour ?
A Yes, I am the president and general manager of this company.
Q Have you attended Coffin’s trial in one thousand nine hundred fifty-four (1954), at Percé ?
Q Am I right to presume that under those circumstances, you probably had not attended neither the Coroner’s inquest nor the Preliminary Enquiry, the year before ?
Q Could you tell us around what time you began being interested in the Coffin affair ?
A It was a short while before the hanging.
Q Ho good !
A At the time when almost all reprieves seemed terminated : I believe it was a few weeks before...
Q Now, you also know, I understand, a newspaperman from Toronto by the name of John Edward Belliveau ?
Q You are aware, no doubt, that Mr. Belliveau had also published a book in one thousand nine hundred fifty-six (1956), in the month of July one thousand nine hundred fifty-six (1956)?
Q Also on the Coffin affair, titled « The Coffin Murder Case » ?
A Yes, in fact.
Q I suppose that you have read that book, at a given time, Mr. Belliveau’s book ?
A Yes, surely, I looked into it when my first book was already written, but it was useful to me to complete the information for my first book, but it was not at the basis or the source of my information.
Q Mr. Belliveau shall be heard, obviously, in his turn, and shall file a copy of his book. May I ask you, if, for your second book, the one that was filed in the court record this morning, you have drawn inspiration from Mr. Belliveau’s book?
A No, in the second book, I met Mr. Belliveau, I had very long talks with him, but I have not opened his book while writing my second book.
Q Now, have you had the opportunity to read the testimonies made at Coffin’s trial, whose transcripts have been filed this morning ?
A Excerpts only.
Q Could you, by memory, if you know, tell us what testimonies you had the opportunity to read ?
A Excerpts from pleadings, in particular, mainly excerpts which the Supreme Court, in the memoranda that were used at the Supreme Court, used.
Q You are referring to argumentations and pleadings of the lawyers involved either on behalf of the Crown or the defence.
Q Beside that, have you had the opportunity to read the testimonies of the very witnesses heard at the trial ?
A Yes, but necessarily in the document that you have there – excerpts that have been given to me by certain witnesses.
Q Could you tell us what depositions you had the opportunity to read in part ?
A If I remember rightly, I could cite that of the medico-legal expert, Mr. Bernard Péclet.
Q I beg your pardon – Mr. Péclet, was he not an expert in balistics ?
A An expert in balistics, but I think he was working with the medico-legal department.
Q You say that you have read excerpts from Mr. Bernard Péclet’s testimony ?
A Yes, that he, himself, gave me.
Q Have you had the opportunity to read other depositions ?
A Certainly. I could not tell you right now, but on other occasions, I could do it.
Q Would it be possible for you to check what testimonies you have read and to give us the names ?
A Yes, it is possible..
Q Next week ?
A All right.
Q However, without giving us a precise figure, within two, three or four testimonies, but could you tells us, to the best of you recollection, how many testimonies you think having had the opportunity to read, in all, or simply in part.
A You are referring to testimonies that have been …
Q Given at Coffin’s trial ?
A ... given at the very trial of Coffin?
A How many testimonies have I read ?
A … from memory, no, I would not dare give a figure.
Q Would you remember the names of the witnesses of whom you have read the depositions ?
A I remember, for instance, the name of Lewis Sinnett.
A. Henri Doyon.
A. It seems, that they are the only two that I can remember.
Q Any way, you will check and give us that information, won’t you ?
A For sure.
EXCERPTS FROM PAGES 158 and following :
Q Do you have an idea, which you no doubt did not have before reading the joint dossier this week, do you now have an idea how many witnesses were heard at Coffin’s trial ?
A A vague idea ; not precise, but almost precise.
Q You realized now that there were exactly 80 witnesses who were heard at Coffin’s trial ?
A I have not counted them.
Q Are you willing to take my word that there were 80 ?
A Yes, I take it.
Q. Out of 80 witnesses, there is one : Péclet whose whole testimony you have read; two, Doyon and Sinnett, of whom you have read excerpts, and 77 whose testimony you never read at the time that you published your book.
A Yes, because I did not feel the need ; they were of no particular interest to me.
Q Then, we go back, if you so permit, Mr. Hébert, to an excerpt of your testimony that was dealt with last week, but, it may be a bit untimely from my part, to continue in this order of thought that I had a while ago, we talked about the testimonies that you had read, those that you had not read, the morning after the publication of your book in the month of December last, do you remember having participated in a television show on Télé-Métro, channel 10, on the fifth (5) December one thousand nine hundred sixty-three (1963)?
A Yes, I remember.
Q You had been interviewed at that time by Pierre Nadeau ?
A Yes, I remember.
Q I have here a transcript of that show and at page 2, I read this…
Me RAYMOND DAOUST, Q.C.
Counsel to Jacques Hébert:
With your permission Your Lordship : Isn’t there an error ? Télé-Métro is on channel 10 and Pierre Nadeau is at Radio-Canada.
Me JULES DESCHÊNES, Q.C.
Legal Counsel to the Commission :
I know that Mr. Nadeau works at Radi0-Canada, but I have here the transcript of a show of Télé-Métro, fifth (5) December one thousand nine hundred sixty-three (1963) where Mr. Jacques Hébert is interviewed by Mr. Pierre Nadeau.
A I beg your pardon, I have never been interviewed by Pierre Nadeau on channel 10, never.
Q Do you recall having been interviewed by Mr. Pierre Nadeau, at a given time, about the issue of your book ?
A Yes, it was on channel 2.
Q All right, we’ll check. I have here the text of that interview, Mr. Hébert, and at page 2, I read the following answer that you have given, at a given time, to Mr. Nadeau and I quote: “I think that never in the history of justice in Canada has a trial been so mishandled where justice, in my opinion, would have been so held up to ridicule.” End of quote.
The trial you talk about, is it the one you only have read the testimonies of 77 out of 80 witnesses ?
A It is exactly that trial.
(To be continued)