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A Canadian tourist who fell into the Atlantic Ocean to drown was mistakenly believed to be a terrorist by his captors, who failed to check on his welfare, a federal court has ruled.
A coroner in Halifax found that the 27-year-old man had been subjected to “unnecessary and unreasonable” brutality, but did not rule on whether he should be charged.
In an unusual ruling, Justice Ian Macdonald concluded that the RCMP’s handling of the situation “is a matter for the Crown to decide.”
The court ruled that the man was captured by police “after a reasonable period of time” and that he was detained in the ocean for a long time before being released.
The Crown has argued that the circumstances surrounding his capture led to the man’s death and the man did not deserve to be treated as a terrorist.
“It is clear from the evidence before this court that the Crown did not exercise reasonable care in securing Mr. McLean’s safety, and that the conduct of the officers was an abuse of discretion,” Macdonald wrote in the ruling, which was released on Friday.
“The conduct of this particular police force was grossly disproportionate and arbitrary.”
He also said that there were no “specific or foreseeable risks to the public safety” as a result of the man being released from custody.
The man, who is in his 30s, was detained on March 3 after a police pursuit in which he crashed his car.
He was eventually found alive, but his death has sparked outrage in Canada, where some people are questioning why he was in the water in the first place.
His family and supporters say the man should have been treated more humanely.
The judge ruled that while he should have known that the search was unlawful, the RCMP did not have reasonable grounds to suspect him of being a terrorist and the officers did not properly check on him.
Macdonald said he had considered whether to charge the RCMP with failing to check McLean, who was wearing a mask, for several days after he was captured, but concluded that he did not.
He also wrote that he considered the conduct “inappropriate and abusive” and could not see how a man could be arrested, but he did find that “the police were negligent” in not checking on the man.
The Mounties have not commented on the ruling.
Earlier this month, Macdonald ruled that Canadian forces should have done more to rescue the man after he became stuck in the sea, but the Crown appealed the decision.
The ruling comes amid an escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Canada over North Korea.
Canada’s prime minister has threatened retaliation against any U.N. sanctions that are imposed on North Korea if it does not comply with a U. N. Security Council resolution.
U. S. President Donald Trump has also said North Korea could face “fire and fury” if it continues to threaten its neighbors and tries to develop nuclear weapons.
The government has previously said it would not impose any sanctions on North Korean citizens and businesses unless the country stops its threats against the U, S. and South Korea.
The Canadian government has not commented publicly on the McLean ruling, but said on Friday that it would take the case to the Supreme Court of Canada.