So-called 'freeman' isn't one after all, it seems

While he might have sounded like one when he was stopped by police and found driving without insurance, a Shuswap man's lawyer assured a judge his client is no "freeman."

Nicholas Mitra, 48, pleaded guilty in provincial court in Kamloops to obstructing an officer. He was charged in February after he was stopped by the RCMP and found driving without proper insurance and registration documents.

His responses to the police - including a lack of co-operation and professed beliefs he did not need such documents - ultimately led to the charge.

Mitra spent six days in jail in April after he did not attend court as required. A judge issued a warrant for his arrest and he remained in custody until he could be brought before the court.

Defence lawyer Rob Bruneau told the judge his client says he is not a freeman, although the man concedes he espoused what must have sounded like freeman ideology at the time.

"He does not hang on to these notions, but they did get him into this difficulty," Bruneau said.

The Freemen of Canada Association is an Ontario-based group that says Canadians have been enslaved by government. They also purport to be governed by the "common law," not the Criminal Code or other Canadian legislation, which they describe as "admiralty law."

Freemen say they do not consent to be governed by such law, and believe they do not have to pay taxes or engage in many other forms for government bureaucracy, including registering vehicles or obtaining driver licences.

Many freemen write their names using a unique blend of punctuation to distinguish their "flesh and blood, natural person" from the corporate identity created by governments.

Bruneau noted Mitra has paid fines to ICBC in excess of $1,500 for driving without insurance. The man apologized to the court for his behaviour when stopped by the police.

Judge Stephen Harrison sentenced Mitra to the time in jail he has already served, noting there is little or no chance the man would have been jailed six days for this offence. The man has no other criminal record.

"It seems unfortunate you wound up serving six days in custody," said the judge.

Kamloops' other notable freeman is former mayoral candidate Brian Alexander, who similarly subscribes to the belief Canada's laws do not apply him.

Alexander, who writes his name now as brian-arthur: alexander, ran for Kamloops mayor in the last municipal election.

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