SNCLavalin delays important decision on jury or judge in corruption trial

MONTREAL — SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. is pushing back its decision on whether to opt for a trial by jury or by judge alone in a corruption case that has tripped up the engineering giant and ensnared it in a political controversy for months.“I need more time to make the choice. It has to be decided by several people in the company,” defence lawyer Francois Fontaine told the Court of Quebec on Friday.“Because it’s an important decision,” he told reporters after the morning hearing. “It’s a big company. It’s necessary to take the time to analyze it carefully.”Last week a Quebec judge ruled there is enough evidence to send SNC-Lavalin to trial over charges of fraud and corruption, prompting a further tumble in the beleaguered firm’s share price.The company has previously pleaded not guilty to the criminal charges.SNC-Lavalin is due back in court June 28.The Montreal-based firm is accused of paying $47.7 million in bribes to public officials in Libya between 2001 and 2011. SNC-Lavalin, its construction division and a subsidiary also face one charge each of fraud and corruption for allegedly defrauding various Libyan organizations of $129.8 million.The court hearing in Montreal on Friday was the latest step in criminal proceedings that began last fall after SNC-Lavalin failed to secure a deferred prosecution agreement, a kind of plea deal that would have seen the firm agree to pay a fine rather than face prosecution.Since early February, SNC-Lavalin has been at the centre of a political controversy following accusations from former attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould that top government officials pressured her to overrule federal prosecutors and negotiate a deferred prosecution agreement with the company. read more

Briton who believes Lourdes holy water cured his cancer to have claims

Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. One hundred people claim to be miraculously healed there every year.But the church, which never formally encourages the devotional use of water, has only certified 70 miracles.Now 71, Mr Stepan is returning to Lourdes to see if his miracle will be verified by The International Medical Committee of Lourdes, comprised of 30 doctors.Before a miracle is confirmed, the original diagnosis must be proven to be incurable before the doctors can say if the patient’s cure was unexplained.The committee is due to announce the outcome of Stepan’s case in October. Roman Catholic archbishop of Strasbourg Luc Ravel celebrates the Feast of the Assumption in LourdesCredit:Pascal Pavani/AFP If the miracle is confirmed, he will become the first Briton to have been cured at the holy site.The Songs of Praise Episode will air on 15 September on BBC One. Roman Catholic archbishop of Strasbourg Luc Ravel celebrates the Feast of the Assumption in Lourdes People gather during the Marian procession in the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes during the annual Catholic pilgrimage of Lourdes  The trade in religious items and Lourdes water has flourished since apparitions of the Virgin Mary were first reported in the 19th century. A British man who believes that Lourdes holy water cured his cancer is to have his claims tested by a board of doctors in an upcoming Songs of Praise episode.Kazik Stepan feared his life was over after he was diagnosed with an inoperable tumour on his spinal cord when he was just 18 years old.However, he claims to have experienced a miracle after he bathed in the sacred water at Lourdes, which enabled him to walk for the first time in months because of its reported healing properties.He was granted the “present of life” on the 8th of September, celebrated by Catholics as the birthday of The Virgin Mary, in 1965, following a long pilgrimage he was not expected to survive. Mr Stepan, from Kent, was one of millions who visited the Roman Catholic pilgrimage site, located in the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains in South-western France, to cure their physical ailments.The Virgin Mary is said to have urged Saint Bernadette of Lourdes to drink and bathe in water from a spring in the Grotto of Massabielle. People gather during the Marian procession in the shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes during the annual Catholic pilgrimage of Lourdes Credit:Pascal Pavani/AFP read more