Crime journalist Michel Auger's health improving in wake of attempt on his life
(FPJQ/IFEX) - Medical authorities say the health of crime journalist Michel Auger, of the
French-language daily "Le Journal de Montreal", is constantly improving. Auger was admitted to hospital after being shot five times in the parking lot of his Montreal newspaper on 13 September 2000.
Auger has left the intensive care unit of his local hospital. He has undergone several operations and is currently under observation. Auger is now able to take a few steps but will not be able to leave the hospital for at least another week.
Auger is a crime specialist who focuses on organised crime and criminal bike gangs. His newspaper is the largest French-language daily in North America and the most popular newspaper in Quebec. Though it is widely believed he has written articles about the criminals who made the attempt on his life, at this point there is no clear evidence that the crime was committed by bikers.
This attack against this Quebec journalist has been strongly denounced as an attack against freedom of the press and democracy. It has created a wave of solidarity among Quebec journalists. On 15 September, two days after the attack, approximately 1,200 people, including several hundred journalists, marched in solidarity along Montreal's famous Mont-Royal Avenue, in the direction of the "Journal de Montreal".
During this event, Paule Beaugrand-Champagne, the editor-in-chief of the "Journal de Montreal", Helene Pichette, the president of the FPJQ, and Michel Roy, the president of the Conseil de presse du Quebec, denounced this attempt to intimidate journalists and vowed that nothing could silence them.
This public expression of solidarity was organised by Auger's colleagues at the "Journal de Montreal" and by the private French-language television network, TVA (the most popular private network in Quebec) in conjunction with the FPJQ. This was the first time Quebec journalists had demonstrated in this manner in more than a decade.
According to Beaugrand-Champagne, Quebec's best investigators have been assigned to this case. No other details with regards to the investigation are currently available.
This is the third time an attempt has been made on the life of a Quebec journalist since 1973. In all three cases, the journalists were investigating organised crime: Jean-Pierre Charbonneau (1973); Robert Monastesse (1995); Auger (2000).
This latest attack has prompted certain politicians, police forces and even several journalists to call for an anti-gang law. If this type of law were instituted, membership in a criminal gang would in itself be criminal. A public debate on this issue is currently underway in Canada.
The FPJQ's annual convention (17 to 19 November) will this year focus on the issue of freedom of the press. Auger will be invited as a special guest. Other guests will include Robert Ménard of Reporters sans frontieres, Jane Kirtley, formerly of Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press, Jean-Francois Khan, editor-in-chief of the Paris-based magazine "Marianne", and Miguel Acosta Valverde from the Mexican Academy of Human Rights' Journalists' Protection Programme.
The complete programme of the convention is available on the FPJQ's website at www.fpjq.org, under the heading: "Au programme bientôt". The convention is open to the public.