Threatening essay lands student in dock

26th January 2001 at 00:00
CANADA: A 16-year-old high-school student charged with uttering death threats has been released on bail, after a month in prison awaiting a hearing.

The student at Tagwi secondary school in Avenmore, Ontario, who cannot be named, was arrested after police became convinced that an assignment written for his drama class was a veiled threat against his classmates.

The story, which was supposed to inspire fear, tells of a student with a speech impediment who, after being beaten up atschool, decides to get revenge by taking bombs to school.

The assistant crown prosecutor says that the story is "disturbing psychologically" because it "dwells on death and violence".

Civil liberties groups, including the Canadian chapter of PEN, an international group dedicated to defending writers, have come to the boy's defence. Clayton Ruby, one of the country's top criminal lawyers, has offered to take the boy's case, "to defend the interest of freedom of speech".

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