ROCCO GALATI, Constitutional Lawyer

At approximately 2:00 pm on December 2, 2003 Rocco Galati defense counsel on several prominent cases involving allegations of links to terrorists and other breaches of national security legislation, received a threatening message from his voicemail. In a gravely voice the caller said: “Well, Mr. Galati, what’s this I hear about you working with the terrorist now, helping to get that… punk terrorist Khadr off. You a dead wop” (Globe and Mail). Mr. Galati, who has been the subject of harassment before due to the unpopularity of some of his clients, immediately contacted Const. John Marshall of the RCMP, after recognizing the voice and realizing the seriousness of the threat. Mr. Galati reports that a former client received similar phone calls shortly before disappearing. Mr. Galati has refused to name the client, but speculation in a Toronto Star article suggests he may be referring to Delmart Edward Vreeland, a former client of Mr. Galati’s who had claimed the US government had prior knowledge of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and has been missing since his apartment was found ransacked in 2002.

Const. Marshall of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) agreed with Mr. Galati that the threat fell under RCMP jurisdiction, but informed him to contact Toronto Police Services (TPS) and ask them to refer the matter to the RCMP as a matter of protocol. Galati then contacted TPS and the case is referred to a Detective Hussein who was to begin a one year leave of absence the following day. Detective Hussein agreed to refer the matter to the RCMP and informed Galati the call had been traced, the phone dusted for prints and surveillance tapes from a nearby Cosco had been sent for analysis. On the morning of December 3, 2003, having heard nothing further from TPS and unable to contact anyone there regarding the case, Galati contacted Const. Marshall to see if the case had been referred. Marshall informed Galati TPS had not referred the case to the RCMP.

At 11:30 on the morning of December 4, 2003, fearing for his safety, Mr. Galati held a press conference to announce he would be stepping down as defence for Abdurahman Khadr and Abdeliah Ouzghar, and will no longer be handling terrorism or national security cases.

LRWC is concerned that the failure of police to respond with an effective investigation and quick action to protect Mr. Galati is a significant departure from fundamental human rights guarantees. Such failure has impaired the right to counsel of Mr. Galati’s clients and perhaps of other people charged with security breaches. It has also effectively curtailed Mr. Galati’s right and duty fully advocate for these clients. LRWC believes when there has been a violation of a lawyer’s right to represent a client criminally charged, the state must move quickly to bring the perpetrator to justice and to protect the targeted lawyer or risk censure of the prosecution.


Letter Written December 4, 2003