Political activist John Boncore was entitled to try to arrest former U.S. president George W. Bush for war crimes, his lawyer told a Calgary court Monday.
Defence counsel Charles Davison said his client’s attempts at breaching a police barrier to gain access to Bush were justified.
Boncore is charged with obstructing a peace officer for repeatedly trying to get past security and into the Telus Convention Centre last March 17.
“Mr. Boncore had reasonable grounds to attempt to do what he said to the police he wanted to do,” Davison told provincial court Judge Manfred Delong.
“And that was to carry out a citizen’s arrest of George Bush,” the lawyer said.
Davison said he will present evidence, including a documentary entitled Taxi to the Dark Side, which details the torture and murder of an innocent Afghan cabbie, to support Boncore’s claim.
Davison said a group called Lawyers Against the War, had urged the RCMP to arrest Bush for crimes against humanity if he stepped on Canadian soil.
That group asserted Bush was “inadmissible to Canada” as a suspected war criminal and said the former U.S. president should not be allowed into our country.
If he was deemed a suspected war criminal Bush would be disentitled to enter Canada under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, and would be breaking the law if he came here, Davison said.
As a result, Boncore was entitled to make a citizen’s arrest since a crime was being committed.
But Crown prosecutor Tracy Davis said citizen’s arrests can only be carried out by a person witnessing a crime taking place.
“The accused was never entitled to effect an arrest of Mr. Bush,” Davis said.
In evidence, Sgt. Andy Comber said Boncore’s attempts to breach a police barricade outside the Telus Convention Centre was causing a large group of protesters to get angry at police.
“If he had breached that line I have no doubt other people would have follow him and eight policemen are not going to be able to hold 400 people back,” Comber told Davis.
“The crowd was quite agitated at that point,” he said.
Boncore’s trial, expected to last four days, continues on Tuesday.