Montreal (CP) - Karla Homolka, who says she fears for her life once released from prison, will have to face the public and the media without any special protection, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Media were given the go-ahead to report on Homolka's post-prison life after the judge dismissed a request by the convicted killer for a sweeping injunction that would have imposed severe limits on news outlets.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Paul-Marcel Bellavance said preventing the media from doing such things as taking her picture or reporting on her home address would be a danger to freedom of the press.
"One day or another, after 12 years of detention, Karla Teale must face the Canadian public and the Canadian media," he said, using the legal name Homolka adopted in the 1990s.
"The public has the right to know the nature of the crimes committed."
Bellavance's ruling came amid reports Homolka intends to challenge restrictions placed on her freedoms when she's released from prison, which could be as early as Thursday.
The restrictions, which were imposed by another judge earlier this month, include having to report to police once a month and giving police 96 hours notice if she wants to leave Quebec.
Christian Lachance, one of Homolka's lawyers, said Bellavance's ruling means "she's in danger."
"As I said in court, there's people who want her dead," he said, noting death threats on the Internet.
Lachance said he may appeal Bellavance's decision, which came after Sylvie Bordelais, another lawyer for the convicted killer, said Montreal and Quebec provincial police will not treat Homolka any differently from anyone else when she is released from prison.
"They can't do any more because she becomes like anyone else," Bordelais told Bellavance.
Homolka sought the injunction to restrict media because she believes her life will be in danger from members of the public if they find out where she lives or what she looks like.
Bellavance said the defence arguments for the injunction were unconvincing and he believed it would be unwise to impose the kind of restrictions sought by Homolka and her lawyers.
He also said he took into consideration that Homolka is subject to restrictions under Sec. 810 of the Criminal Code which were imposed because she is potentially dangerous.
Homolka is expected to be released from a Montreal-area prison between Thursday and Monday after serving her entire 12-year sentence for manslaughter in the sex slayings of Ontario schoolgirls Kristen French and Leslie Mahaffy.
Lawyer Christian Leblanc, representing several media outlets, said he's pleased with the decision.
"It's full of common sense," he said outside court, adding restrictions on the media would have set a bad precedent.
But the judge didn't close the door completely to revisiting possible restrictions.
"One day or another, we'll have to look at the situation if the media becomes too insistent or behaves badly," Bellavance said.
Lachance said he would give Homolka the bad news.
"She can't imagine that (being out of prison) because she fears very much for her safety."
In an affidavit that accompanied the injunction request, Homolka said she believes "that some people wish to do the public a favour by killing me."
Lachance told the court that, without any restrictions "a public lynching would be authorized."
"She would be imprisoned in society and thrown to the lions," Lachance told the judge.
But Bantey, a lawyer for some of the media fighting the injunction bid, said the court "shouldn't become a bodyguard for Madame Homolka."
Earlier, other lawyers for Homolka argued the public should not be allowed to know where she lives because that would put her life in danger.
"The injunction is necessary to rule out a risk that is real and significant," said Walid Hijazi.
"This woman is alone and without resources."
Meanwhile, a source with Ontario's Attorney General said Homolka is appealing the range of restrictions placed on her eventual freedom and that her lawyers have filed a notice of appeal of the Sec. 810 order.
The source said there will be preliminary discussions on the matter on Tuesday in Joliette, Que.
"As the matter is now under appeal, no further comment can be made at this time," said a spokesman for Ontario Attorney General Michael Bryant.
The wide-ranging restrictions were imposed under the rarely used Sec. 810 of the Criminal Code that can result in restrictions on where somebody can go and who they can associate with if there are reasonable grounds to believe that person will harm others.
Homolka was not in court Wednesday.