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Montreal police accused of fabricating evidence, SQ investigating

Click to play video: 'Quebec politicians shocked over Montreal police internal corruption' Quebec politicians shocked over Montreal police internal corruption
WATCH ABOVE: Montreal police have been accused of fabricating internal evidence in an attempt to silence officers threatening to speak out about alleged corruption within the force. As Global's Raquel Fletcher reports, Quebec opposition parties want an overhaul of the force – Feb 22, 2017

Montreal’s police force has been accused of fabricating internal evidence in an attempt to silence officers threatening to speak out about alleged corruption within the force, according to an investigative report by TVA.

“We heard of troubling meetings, in hotels and everything, so we’re shining a light on this,” said Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre, adding that he’s spoken to provincial Minister of Public Security Martin Coiteux.

“Obviously, it’s important to have confidence in our institutions. This investigation will preserve that confidence.”

According to TVA, police chief Philippe Pichet has denied the allegations, but has asked Sûreté du Québec (SQ) director general Martin Prud’homme to investigate.

“The vast majority of men and women who work for Montreal police do their work properly,” said Coderre.

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“I think we should let police do their jobs, and let the SQ do their investigation.”

READ MORE: Journalist coalition demands federal public inquiry after Quebec police spying scandal

Both the Parti Québécois (PQ) and the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) have called for the province’s bureau of independent investigation (BEI) to look into the allegations.

“The BEI doesn’t look into internal investigations like this one, that’s why the SQ is involved,” said Coderre, addressing Montreal’s executive committee Wednesday morning.

Whistleblowers in the police force

Giovanni Di Feo, along with former colleague Jimmy Cacchione, recently came forward claiming they were forced out of their jobs in 2013 after trying to blow the whistle on corruption in the city police.

They were suspended without pay in June 2013 following an internal disciplinary investigation, later leaving the force after reaching amicable agreements.

“We had information on the fact that some people were actually fabricating information against other police officers and regular criminals,” Di Feo told The Canadian Press in an interview Wednesday.

“We had approached our superiors about it and we wrote a letter to internal affairs as well. This was [in 2011 and 2012] – just before we were laid off.”

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Di Feo and Cacchione investigated the Mafia and Hells Angels and were also tasked with two internal probes against police officers suspected of corruption.

The two men allege members of the force’s internal affairs department embellish or fabricate evidence against lower-ranking officers who fall out of favour.

WATCH: Bombshell corruption allegations against Montreal’s police force. Mike Armstrong reports.

Click to play video: 'Bombshell corruption allegations against Montreal’s police force' Bombshell corruption allegations against Montreal’s police force
Bombshell corruption allegations against Montreal’s police force – Feb 22, 2017

Spurious investigations were then allegedly launched to obtain phone records and other surveillance warrants in order to intimidate colleagues.

Di Feo says politicians, authorities and the public need to be strong-willed to change what he claims is a culture of impunity in the Montreal police’s internal affairs department.

He added he’s skeptical about the provincial police’s mandate to look into the allegations.

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“As far as we’re concerned that’s not really the proper way to do it,” he said.

Di Feo said the province’s bureau for independent police investigations would be better placed to conduct the probe.

“It’s all about who is supervising the investigation and who are the investigators,” he said.

“You can send them wherever you want but if you don’t have a supervisor who knows about investigations and who will go in-depth, you won’t get results.”

WATCH BELOW: Spying on journalists

This isn’t the first time Montreal police have been embroiled in controversy.

READ MORE: Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre insists he never asked police to spy on reporter

Last fall, the Quebec government announced it would hold a public inquiry into journalistic sources after allegations surfaced that Montreal police spied on several journalists in an attempt to find out which officers were supposedly speaking to them.

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The police apparently searched employee call records to find the journalists’ cellphone numbers.

The Chamberland Commission launched its inquiry Tuesday, hearing from parties interested in obtaining intervenor status before the commission.

READ MORE: Quebec premier announces measures in wake of police monitoring of reporters

Following the allegations police were spying on Quebec journalists, a coalition called on the federal government to hold a public inquiry into the matter.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke out about the allegations at the time, saying nothing of this nature is happening at the federal level.

READ MORE: 3 other journalists allegedly under surveillance by Montreal police

“Not only is freedom of the press important, it’s one of the foundational safeguards of a free democracy, a free society,” he said.

— with files from The Canadian Press.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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