The person suspected of causing a fire in Old Montreal that caused the deaths of seven people last March is a man who was illegally at large for four years after escaping a minimum security prison, according to La Presse.
Denis Bégin, 63, escaped the Federal Training Centre in Laval in February 2019, where he was serving a life sentence for a murder he committed in Montreal in 1993.
According to La Presse, Bégin was on the run for four years and had assumed the identity of a homeless man.
He was reportedly questioned by Montreal police investigators as part of their investigation into the fire on March 16.
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However, an officer who is well acquainted with the homeless population in the area told investigators that Bégin was not who he was claiming to be.
In May, the Correctional Service of Canada announced that Montreal police had arrested Bégin for being illegally at large.
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Prior to his arrest, Quebec’s provincial police had listed Bégin as one of the province’s most wanted criminals.
His case will return to court on Jan. 29, 2024.
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Global News could not reach his lawyer on Thursday.
On Tuesday, SPVM Insp. David Shane told Global News that investigators are actively pursuing the case.
“We’re concentrated solely on the criminal investigation now,” Shane said. “Every possible infraction of the Criminal Code pertaining to this type of incident is on the table. For example, homicide, arson, negligence — all of these infractions are looked at by investigators.”
In an email to Global News on Thursday, a Montreal police spokesperson refused to comment on the case.
Melanie Bergeron said the force “never comments, with rare exceptions, on ongoing investigations in detail, as to not to harm their progress.”
A coroner’s inquest ordered into the fire is on hold until the conclusion of the police investigation and any potential criminal trials.
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