The Crown’s evidence against ex-Montreal mayor Michael Applebaum is weak and depends on witnesses who had an interest in blaming him, his lawyer said Monday.
The veteran politician has pleaded not guilty to the 14 corruption-related charges he’s facing, including fraud against the government and breach of trust.
In his final arguments, defence lawyer Pierre Teasdale said each of the Crown’s four main witnesses admitted to participating in corruption but none were charged after they agreed to testify against Applebaum.
He said they all had an interest in shifting the blame to Applebaum to save themselves.
“Each one had the right to consider and have hope that by incriminating Mr. Applebaum, they would save their skins,” Teasdale said.
The Crown alleges Applebaum accepted cash through a former aide in return for favours given to local real estate developers and engineering firms.
The charges stem from crimes alleged to have occurred in two separate deals between 2007 and 2010 when he was mayor of Montreal’s largest borough.
Applebaum, who served as interim Montreal mayor between November 2012 and June 2013, did not testify at his trial, which heard seven days of testimony from Crown witnesses.
Teasdale said Monday that although the witnesses weren’t given immunity, they had reason to believe they wouldn’t be prosecuted if they co-operated with the police investigation against Applebaum.
He argued the Crown had presented “very little evidence” to corroborate what the witnesses said on the stand.
In its closing arguments, the Crown said last week that the witnesses were credible and their testimony was enough to prove Applebaum’s involvement in the alleged scheme.
Final arguments are expected to wrap up later Monday.