MONTREAL –A Montreal man was charged Wednesday with uttering threats online and inciting hatred as authorities said they were dealing with more hate-related complaints since Sunday’s mass killing at a mosque.
Antonio Padula, 45, was arraigned after being arrested Tuesday night at his residence in Kirkland, a suburb on Montreal’s west island.
The Crown opposed his release and he will return to court Thursday for a bail hearing.
Padula’s arrest came just days after a gunman killed six men and wounded several others as they attended prayer at a Quebec City mosque.
The charges filed in court state the alleged comments and threats were made sometime on Tuesday.
Padula, wearing a Juventus jersey, appeared by video and seemed shocked as the Crown opposed his release.
The prosecution asked Padula to be seen by a psycho-social care worker before his bail hearing.
“We can’t do that now?,” Padula asked the court, clearly shaken.
“I’m not going to handle a night over here,” he told Quebec court Judge Denis Mondor.
The judge replied, “We’ll take care of you, sir,” before asking jail guards to take care of him.
The charge of public incitement of hatred carries a maximum of two years in prison, while uttering threats has a maximum five-year sentence.
Montreal police said Quebec provincial police told them about the comments.
The chief spokesman for the provincial force, which probes online threats, took to Twitter on Tuesday to remind users their posts can lead to criminal charges.
“Threatening or hate propaganda on social media, regardless of intention (humour), can be criminal,” said Capt. Guy Lapointe.
“The inhibitions are less present behind a keyboard,” he said.
As of Wednesday afternoon, provincial police had received nearly 175 complaints brought to their attention since Sunday.
In addition to stepping up patrols around places of worship, Montreal police Chief Philippe Pichet told reporters Tuesday the force has also seen a spike in the number of reports of hate crimes since the mosque attack.
Last May, Montreal police created a hate-crimes unit to probe such complaints.
On Wednesday, the head of Montreal’s anti-radicalization centre told the city’s executive committee it had received 24 calls since Sunday, including 10 related to Islamophobia and four related to the extreme right.
Herman Deparice-Okomba said four of those cases were transferred to police.
“It (24) is an enormous number in 72 hours,” he said.