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NIS Rewrote Suicide Investigation Report, Removing Potentially Damaging Referenc
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2012, 12:03:40 PM »
Senior Canadian Forces National Investigation Service Officers Rewrote Suicide Investigation Report, Removing Potentially Damaging References to the Military, Inquiry Hears

September 14, 2012. 10:36 am • Section: Defence Watch

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2012/09/14/senior-canadian-forces-national-investigation-service-officers-rewrote-suicide-investigation-report-removing-potentially-damaging-references-to-the-military-inquiry-hears/

Chris Cobb of the Ottawa Citizen had this article on today’s front page:

OTTAWA — Superiors of the lead military investigator in the Stuart Langridge suicide case slashed and censored their subordinate’s final summary of the case, a shocked federal inquiry heard Thursday.

Military Police Complaints Commission lawyer Mark Freiman dropped the bombshell towards the end of a day of dramatic testimony by Sgt. Matthew Ritco, the investigator chosen to handle the Langridge case the day the Afghanistan war veteran hanged himself in March 2008.

The re-written report — absent potentially damaging references to the military and less than half the length of Ritco’s original — was the National Investigation Service’s (NIS) ‘official’ version sent to the base commander at CFB Edmonton where Langridge hanged himself.

Despite being re-written and censored by his superiors, Ritco’s name remained on the report as its author and the title of the report also remained the same.

The stunning revelation appears to confirm claims by Langridge’s parents Shaun and Sheila Fynes that elements in the NIS were biased in favour of the military and doctored their report accordingly.

“It’s shades of Somalia,’ said the Fynes’ lawyer Michel Drapeau told the Citizen after the hearing. “It’s unheard of. We are shaking our heads.

“This NIS Case Summary was ghost written by the NIS chain of command,” he added. “This is a cause for concern, and evidences our allegation that there is a lack of independence within the NIS.”

Key elements censored by Ritco’s superiors include all but one reference to whether Langridge was on a suicide watch before he died, and whether he was on “defaulters” — or being disciplined.

The reference to a suicide watch remaining in the re-written report is supportive of brass at CFB Edmonton: “Cpl Langridge was not on defaulters nor was he on a suicide watch,” reads the reference.

Ritco’s original report includes several references to a suicide watch, most significantly the fact that a list of names was drawn up at the request of the regimental sergeant major to watch Langridge round the clock if it became necessary.

Ritco says the instruction was “to obtain a list of personal (sic) available to assist in a suicide watch on Cpl. Langridge.”

Also absent from the rewritten report is reference to an interview Ritco conducted with a master corporal at the base who stated categorically she was ordered to draw up the list.

According to previous evidence, Langridge accidentally saw an email the master corporal wrote about the list and she was later verbally disciplined for putting the words ‘suicide watch’ in an email subject line. There has been ongoing debate and contradiction throughout the inquiry as to whether Langridge was on an official suicide watch. There is still no clear answer but the implications are potentially serious.

If the troubled suicidal soldier was on an official 24-7 watch when he killed himself, it could have led to criminal negligence charges against his base superiors. But more significant to the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry is the fact that NIS brass chose to censor potentially damaging references.

Ritco’s original case summary was dated May 30, 2008. The edited, censored version was dated June 2, 2008.

Ritco, a rookie investigator at the time, told commission lawyer Freiman that he had expressed “concern” to his superiors about his name being on the doctored report, but they told him “ ‘that’s the way we want it done.’ It was a direction that came down from higher.”

A clearly surprised commission chairman Glenn Stannard, a former Windsor, Ont., police chief, said he was “confused” as to why there had to be two reports.

“You’re the lead investigator,” he said to Ritco. “Why is there a different case summary? Why does it have to be altered?”

Ritco said his superiors told him they would “fix it up” and it would read better.

“But it’s different,” responded Stannard. “The facts are different … and it’s less than half of yours.”

“Yes,” replied Ritco. “I did have issues with my name being up there. If something should happen, and we come to something like this (a public inquiry) everybody will assume I wrote it.”

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Lead investigator rebuked at suicide inquiry
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2012, 06:38:35 PM »
Lead investigator rebuked at suicide inquiry

September 14, 2012 Updated: September 14, 2012 | 5:41 pm

http://metronews.ca/news/canada/370037/lead-investigator-rebuked-at-suicide-inquiry/


A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 28, 2010. A last-minute witness has been added to the public hearing into the suicide of a Canadian soldier and that is prompting a flurry of objections from federal lawyers. Mark Freiman, who represents the Military Police Complaints Commission, says the witness came forward just recently and has something relevant to add to the investigation into the handling of Cpl. Stuart Langridge's death. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Piercing, uncomfortable moments of silence filled the air Friday as the chairman of a military watchdog agency rebuked and lectured the Canadian Forces investigator who probed the 2008 suicide of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

Glenn Stannard, a former police chief, systematically ripped apart some of Sgt. Matthew Ritco’s most important assumptions about the Langridge’s death — perceptions that it turns out shaped almost the entire investigation.

“You’re a police officer … Stuart Langridge was counting on you investigating,” Stannard told Ritco at the end of a 20-minute barrage of pointed questions and clarification that at times bordered on a stern lecture.

That observation prompted Langridge’s mother, Sheila Fynes, to drop her glasses and burst into tears.

“In all of your training, did you ever hear the phrase, or hear the phrase from anybody — from your mother to police training — ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated?’ Stannard said, looking directly at Ritco.

“Do you think that happened here?”

Throughout almost two complete days of testimony, Ritco defended and apologized for some of the most egregious mistakes in the investigation, most notably his decision to withhold Langridge’s suicide note from the family for 14 months.

Ritco explained he felt he was handling evidence and didn’t want to rule out foul play too quickly.

He said he treated the March 2008 death as a possible homicide until he was convinced beyond a shadow of doubt — three months later — that Langridge, a troubled veteran of military action in Bosnia and Afghanistan, had indeed died by his own hand.

The repeated assertion left Stannard incredulous.

“The issue of suicide could potentially have been determined long before the date of June,” the chairman said. “The issue of whether Stuart Langridge hanged himself could have been concluded much sooner.”

Stannard led the rookie investigator through evidence at the scene, including a door locked from the inside, no signs of forced entry or a struggle, a suicide note, the coroner’s statement that it was a “classic suicide,” and the position and condition of the body.

When put on the spot by Stannard, Ritco had trouble recounting the textbook definition of lividity — post-mortem discolouration of the skin — and what it tells investigators.

“Given that it was my first suicide … ” the military cop began to say.

Stannard quickly shut him down. “I don’t care if it your first or your 50th.”

The uncomfortable, at times painful, exchange was punctuated by long moments of awkward silence.

“I did not intentionally try to do any harm to anyone here, sir,” Ritco said at one point.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is examining whether military police conducted a biased investigation into Langridge’s death, setting out from the beginning to smear the troubled soldier whose drug and alcohol problems had seen him in and out of hospital.

Inquiry lawyers separately delved into other aspects of how Ritco handled the case, questioning why he didn’t interview Langridge’s ex-girlfriend, who testified she’d been assured that Langridge had been placed on suicide watch.

Ritco said he and his case supervisor decided not to talk to her, even though she was initially listed as an important witness.

Ritco was also questioned about the fact his final report on the death was heavily rewritten and censored.

On Thursday, he said “direction that came down from higher” to create two case summary files — one written by him, and another rewritten version to be delivered to the chain of command, including Langridge’s commanding officer.

The final draft removed all but one reference to the victim having been on suicide watch before his death, an important point in the question of whether the military was negligent in handling Langridge’s case.

If Langridge had died while under such strict supervision, it would have obliged military police to open a criminal negligence investigation.

Ritco had earlier testified that he had “issues” with his name being on the second version of the report, given that two other people worked on it, but he backed away from his initial remarks as the inquiry resumed Friday.

He told the inquiry that he stands by both versions of the report as a fair representation of his investigation.

“My only concern was … just by my name being on the top of that text box; not the content, just the name,” he said.

Military police did not initially look at whether members of the Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) regiment were culpable — something the family has insisted should have been done from the outset.

Ritco’s confrontation with Stannard wasn’t the only source of drama Friday.

A last-minute witness was added to the list of those scheduled to testify, prompting a flurry of objections from federal lawyers.

Mark Freiman, who represents the complaints commission, said Kirk Lackie, a personal friend of Langridge, came forward to declare he has something relevant to add to the investigation.

Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards said bringing in a surprise witness may not be fair to the military investigators who conducted the probe.

Richards said she’s also concerned because the witness has a criminal record and the Crown knows little about him.

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Un témoin surprise s'ajoute à une enquête sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien
« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2012, 09:28:04 PM »
Un témoin surprise s'ajoute à une enquête sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien

Publié par La Presse Canadienne le vendredi 14 septembre 2012 à 13h35.


OTTAWA - Un témoin de dernière minute a été ajouté à une audience publique sur le suicide d'un soldat canadien, et le geste a suscité de vives objections de la part d'avocats du gouvernement fédéral.

Selon Mark Freiman, qui représente la Commission des plaintes concernant la police militaire, le témoin ne s'est manifesté que récemment et sa déclaration aurait un impact important sur l'enquête entourant les suites de la mort du caporal Stuart Langridge.

Ce nouveau témoin est Kirk Lackie, un ami du défunt.

Aux yeux de l'avocate Elizabeth Richards du ministère de la Justice, toutefois, l'ajout d'un nouveau témoin pourrait se révéler injuste envers les policiers militaires accusés d'avoir mené une enquête partiale sur le suicide.

Me Richards dit également être inquiète du fait que M. Lackie possède un dossier criminel et que la Couronne ne sait que peu de choses à son sujet.

Le président de la commission doit entendre les arguments sur cette question plus tard vendredi.

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P1Hearing Cpl Langridge suicide – (Chair) vs Lead CF NIS Investigator (VIDEO)
« Reply #18 on: September 16, 2012, 05:22:04 PM »
Part 1

[youtube]http://youtu.be/6ZTij7F5qr0[/youtube]

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Friend says military failed to keep close watch on soldier who killed himself
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2012, 05:25:44 PM »
Friend says military failed to keep close watch on soldier who killed himself
 
By Stephanie Levitz, The Canadian Press September 19, 2012 2:20 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Friend+says+military+failed+keep+close+watch+soldier+killed/7266335/story.html#ixzz26xF6EJVk


Veteran Kirk Lackie testifies at the Military Police Complaints Commission in Ottawa on Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

OTTAWA - A former soldier says the military failed to keep a close enough eye on a suicidal Afghan vet the day he killed himself.

Kirk Lackie testified Wednesday at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry into Cpl. Stuart Langridge's death.

The inquiry was called following complaints from his family that the investigations into Langridge's suicide were botched.

Lackie was a last-minute addition to the witness list; he asked to testify.

"I want Stu's ma and everybody to know the truth about what's going on because right from the get-go, other names have been named and whatever, and the truth has not been told," Lackie said at the close of emotional testimony.

He had met Langridge early in their training and formed a bond that later deepened over their shared struggles with addiction.

The inquiry has previously heard that Langridge drank and used drugs, and was in and out of rehab. There has also been significant disagreement about whether he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder.

He had tried to kill himself on previous occasions.

Langridge was aware he had problems, Lackie said, but they were difficult for him to overcome.

"It's hard to think you're addicted when you are already drunk," Lackie testified.

Lackie said everyone on the base knew about Langridge's struggles, but dismissed them.

"There's a saying: the army uses you like a tissue paper. As soon as they're finished with you, like a tissue paper they throw you away," Lackie said.

"And Stu, was to them, a really dirty tissue paper. They threw him away, but they just didn't want to throw him away, they wanted to scoop him under the carpet."

The night before Langridge killed himself, Lackie said he tried to take him to a Alcoholics Anonymous counselling session, but the soldier refused.

The next day, Lackie was in the base's duty centre and happened to see the logbook set up to monitor Langridge.

Langridge had been placed on a suicide watch and someone was supposed to check on him roughly every 30 minutes.

That wasn't what the logbook showed, Lackie said.

"And I said to the duty driver, it's been three and half hours since someone checked on Stu. I said why don't you fly ... over there and check on him?" Lackie testified.

But elements of Lackie's recollection were questioned by both lawyers for the commission and the Crown.

Commission counsel suggested the soldiers Lackie said he spoke to that day weren't actually working, while the Crown wondered why none of the ones who have previously testified mentioned Lackie's presence on that day.

"That's because he's still in the military," Lackie replied.

Lackie said a few minutes after someone left to check, he heard sirens and then overheard an expletive-laden phone call.

He said it was then he knew that Langridge had died. The soldier had hanged himself in his barracks.

It was later that year that Lackie began a series of run-ins with the law, including one incident where he barricaded himself inside his home — with two guns, ammunition and explosives — and told police they'd have to take him out with a shot to the head.

He later surrendered without incident and pled guilty on a number of related charges. He also pled guilty to later incidents involving breaches of his probation and impaired driving.

Lackie's criminal record was cited as a concern by the Crown when it opposed his appearance on the stand.

Two Ottawa police officers were present in the complaints' commission room Wednesday, saying they were there to provide added security.

Lackie was released from the military in 2010.

Over those years, he testified that he tried to tell military personnel what happened the day of Langridge's death but no one ever contacted him.

Commission lawyers said there were no records of his attempts to contact military police.

But Lackie was finally interviewed last week.

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Soldier who led investigation into vet's suicide defends conclusions
« Reply #20 on: September 21, 2012, 01:01:55 AM »
Soldier who led investigation into vet's suicide defends conclusions

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-who-led-investigation-into-vet-s-suicide-defends-conclusions-1.965244#ixzz274wYrhJr


A photo of Cpl. Stuart Langridge is seen along with his beret and medals on a table during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on October 28, 2010. (Adrian Wyld/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, Sep. 20, 2012 8:05PM EDT

OTTAWA -- A soldier tasked with reviewing an investigation into an Afghan vet's suicide defended himself Thursday against allegations of bias.

Sgt. Scott Shannon led the final investigation into how the military handled the life and death of Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

But his conclusions -- that no one in the military broke any rules in their dealings with Langridge or his family -- are part of a continuing inquiry at the Military Police Complaints Commission.

The inquiry was called following three years of what Langridge's family called flawed and biased investigations into what happened in the days before and after Langridge killed himself in 2008.

But during a day-and-half of often-combative testimony at the inquiry, Shannon insisted his review was thorough and detailed.

At issue is the refusal of the military to tell the family there had been a suicide note; how officers decided who would plan the funeral; and how they treated Langridge's continuing struggles with addiction and possibly post traumatic stress disorder.

Shannon, who has conducted 109 investigations in his six years with the National Investigative Service, had been tasked with reviewing prior investigations into those problems.

Langridge hanged himself in his Edmonton barracks following prior suicide attempts and hospitalization and treatment for addiction.

In the days before his death, he had been on strict supervision on the base in what his family and friends considered a suicide watch.

At one point, the inquiry heard that he said he'd rather kill himself than return to his unit.

But Shannon said that statement was among the facts he considered irrelevant as he reviewed whether the military's treatment of Langridge constituted either criminal negligence or violation of military law.

The possibility of criminal charges had been raised by Langridge's mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes.

Nor did his addictions or mental-health issues factor in to determining whether the threshold of criminal negligence on the part of the military was met, the inquiry heard.

It's impossible to pin responsibility for a suicide, Shannon said.

"I'm not Cpl. Langridge. He's the only person who can answer that question," Shannon said.

As for the specific complaints of failure to carry out military duties in the wake of Langridge's suicide, Shannon said the military followed all the existing rules and procedures.

He said when they decided Langridge's longtime girlfriend was his next of kin, they did so appropriately, based on the "customs of society" that consider a spouse to be someone's next of kin.

He told the inquiry that to arrive at his overall conclusions he focused on available documents and transcripts from prior interviews.

"The evaluation of the documents speak louder than any statements made by an individual four years after the fact," Shannon said.

Shannon said he drew his understanding of the facts of the case from the hundreds of pages contained in the files, as well as his prior experience as an investigator.

But he was grilled by commission counsel, as well as lawyers for the Fynes family and the commission chair, as to how he arrived at his conclusions.

"What if your interpretation of a document, by your interpretation ... what if you were wrong?," Glenn Stannard, the commission chair asked.

Shannon acknowledged that if had he been wrong, the rest of his investigation was flawed but said he had all the information he needed.

He said his investigation wasn't about whether the military's decisions in the Langridge case were right or wrong but whether they broke any rules.

He called allegations of bias in his investigation unfair, noting that he worked alone and often on his personal time on the investigation.

"I have lived up to my obligations and my promises to Mrs. Fynes," Shannon said.

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‘We go where the truth leads us,’ retired NIS investigator tells Langridge inquiry

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen September 21, 2012 7:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/where+truth+leads+retired+investigator+tells+Langridge+inquiry/7281565/story.html#ixzz279OwuOnh



OTTAWA — A former high-ranking military detective refused to comment Friday when asked at a federal inquiry whether his lead investigator should have probed deeper into the circumstances surrounding the 2008 suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge.

“You’re asking me to voice my opinion,” said retired operations Warrant Officer Sean Bonneteau, who left the military last year. “I don’t know how my opinion would help in these circumstances. I have an opinion on a lot of things — whether or not that would assist the hearing — I can’t see it would.”

Bonneteau, a former senior investigator with the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (NIS), told Military Police Complaints Commission lawyer Mark Freiman that he trusted subordinate Sgt. Scott Shannon.

Shannon, who testified through two days earlier in the week, was assigned to investigate complaints by Langridge’s parents that the initial investigation into their son’s death was biased in favour of the military.

Shannon told the inquiry that he only consulted documents and transcripts from the initial interview before deciding early in his assignment that Langridge’s superiors at CFB Edmonton had no legal case to answer and that his NIS colleagues had conducted the investigation fairly.

“Evaluation of documents speak louder speak louder than any individual,” Shannon told the inquiry.

Bonneteau was part of a group of senior NIS officers for whom Shannon prepared a power point presentation that effectively rejected every complaint made by Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Shaun and Sheila Fynes.

Chief among their complaints was that Langridge’s superiors were guilty of negligence in his death.

“Did I agree or disagree with the briefing Sgt. Shannon provided?” said Bonneteau. “I would have to say I agreed with it.”

“You sure you had enough factual background to make that decision?” asked Freiman.

“No,” replied Bonneteau, “but I put my trust in the investigators.”

Freiman read an account of the last 10 days of Langridge’s life during which the suicidal 28-year-old was ordered back to his base against his will, denied a request for further treatment, given menial tasks and placed under strict conditions.

Langridge had told a doctor that he would rather kill himself than return to his base.

Ten days later he hanged himself.

Although several witnesses have testified that Langridge was on an official suicide watch, the military denies he was.

Freiman asked Bonneteau whether the circumstances surrounding the soldier’s suicide might have warranted further investigation by Shannon — including interviewing suspects and gathering other evidence.

“I wasn’t present during the investigation,” replied Bonneteau. “I wasn’t part of the investigation. For me to make a comment on that would be irresponsible.”

Freiman told the retired officer that he was not asking for him to comment on whether the original investigation was “correct or incorrect” but whether there was enough evidence to warrant a review that went beyond the examination of documents.

Asked by his lawyer, federal Justice Department lawyer Korinda McLaine, to respond to accusations that the NIS was not independent, Bonneteau said the military detective agency was fiercely independent.

“Nobody tells us what to do or where to go,” he said. “We go where the facts are. We go where the truth leads us. It’s part and parcel of being independent.”

The inquiry, which is scheduled to end mid-October, continues Monday.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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Langridge family’s lawyer questions military investigators’ methods
« Reply #22 on: September 24, 2012, 08:57:59 PM »
Langridge family’s lawyer questions military investigators’ methods
 
By Chris Cobb, Ottawa September 24, 2012 6:02 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Langridge+family+lawyer+questions+military+investigators+methods/7292112/story.html#ixzz27RL9UjHn



OTTAWA — Military detectives investigating the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Stuart Langridge were left to their own devices and got little or no direction from superiors, the lawyer for the late soldier’s family claimed Monday.

After testimony at the Military Police Complaints Commission from a second National Investigative Service (NIS) supervisor, lawyer Michel Drapeau said major decisions in the Langridge case were made by a single investigator and apparently accepted by superiors with little discussion.

Sgt. Scott Shannon, an investigator assigned to assess the validity of complaints by Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes, told the commission last week that he did not interview any witnesses before coming to the conclusion that the complaints had no basis.

“Evaluation of documents speak louder than any individual,” he said.

Shannon’s superiors accepted his opinion.

The Fynes claim that the military was negligent in the treatment of Langridge, who was ordered back to his regiment at CFB Edmonton after 30 days of psychiatric treatment and refused permission for further treatment.

Langridge, who had attempted suicide several times, had been struggling with depression and alcohol and drug abuse.

Drapeau said he was “baffled” by the “extraordinary decision” not to interview witnesses who would have helped build a case for, or against, the Fynes’ complaints.

“From a practical, realistic, common-sense approach that’s what you’d want to do,” he said. “You leave no stone unturned. You follow the evidence. It would have cost very little to have done those interviews. Maybe the result would have been the same but at least you would have had complete answers.

“It seems to me,” added Drapeau, “that to make an arbitrary decision to close that door brings into question the investigative procedures being used. I question their utility, their efficiency and capacity to say, ‘We have done a complete investigation.’”

During testimony Monday, Warrant Officer Blair Hart supported Friday’s testimony by his former NIS colleague and fellow supervisor, retired Warrant Officer Sean Bonneteau.

Both said that they put trust in their investigators and insisted that the NIS is “fiercely” independent.

“My investigators were free to conduct their investigations, I didn’t micromanage,” said Hart.

But the veteran military policeman rejected Drapeau’s suggestion that investigators are left to their own devices.

“You were aloof in the supervision of this investigation,” said Drapeau. “Would that be correct?”

“No sir.”

“They (investigators) were required to brief members of the command team,” said Hart, who added that supervisors also monitored computer updates investigators are required to file.

It was also normal, he added, to do an initial assessment before pushing on with a full investigation.

“If it’s founded, we launch into an investigation,” he said. “If we can put the allegations to rest at that time, that’s as far as it goes.”

But after listening to the Bonneteau and Hart testimony, Drapeau told the Citizen he was not convinced the investigators case were properly supervised.

“I found that the investigators were left to their own devices and received very little guidance or direction,” he said. “That’s a concern. I would have liked to have seen two or three minds on it.”

The inquiry continues Thursday.

ccobb@ottawacitizen.com

twitter.com/chrisicobb
© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/Langridge+family+lawyer+questions+military+investigators+methods/7292112/story.html#ixzz27RLHvpyt
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The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti: The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge -
« Reply #23 on: September 25, 2012, 06:41:28 PM »
The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge

Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Categories: Episodes

Listen in http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/episode/2012/09/25/the-death-of-corporal-stuart-langridge/

We don’t know how many soldiers deployed to Afghanistan returned so troubled and broken that they tried to take their own lives. But we do know one family’s search for answers about their son’s suicide has led to a months-long inquiry of heartbreaking detail. Corporal Stuart Langridge took his own life four years ago after returning from Afghanistan. His parents Sheila and Shaun Fynes are ready to tell their story today.

The death of Corporal Stuart Langridge

For more than 50 days, Sheila Fynes has sat in a small windowless room in Ottawa listening and trying to understand how and why their son could have been so desperate that he was driven to suicide.

Corporal Stuart Langridge served in the Canadian army in Bosnia and Afghanistan. Four years ago, after returning to Canada he took his life.

His parents, Sheila and Shaun Fynes say he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the military botched the investigation into his death. The military defends its investigation, but the Fynes pushed for a hearing with the Military Police Complaints Commission, a process that is underway now.

Shiela Fynes is the mother of Corporal Stuart Langridge. She was in Ottawa. And Shaun Fynes is his step father. He was in Victoria.

We did request an interview with someone from the Department of National Defence to respond to the Fynes. Our request was denied.

This segment was produced by The Current's Ellen Saenger.
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Top military cop denies general’s comments prejudiced investigation
« Reply #24 on: October 04, 2012, 10:29:39 PM »
Top military cop denies general’s comments prejudiced investigation

By Chris Cobb, Ottawa Citizen October 4, 2012 9:01 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/military+denies+general+comments+prejudiced+investigation/7346531/story.html#ixzz28OByKEs8


Maj. Daniel Dandurand, former head of the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) western region, testifies Wednesday before the Military Police Complaints Commissioninto allegations the NIS whitewashed and fast-tracked three separate investigations and ignored crucial evidence to protect the military after Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge hanged himself.
Photograph by: Michael Tansey , Special to the Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — A rare “letter to the editor” in which Chief of Defence Staff Walter Natynczyk apparently predicted the outcome of a military police probe into the suicide of Afghan veteran Stuart Langridge had no affect on investigators, a top military cop insisted Thursday.

Maj. Daniel Dandurand, former head of the military’s National Investigation Service (NIS) western region, said Natynczyk is a man of “humility” and if his internal police force showed him evidence that he was wrong, the top soldier would accept it.

The Langridge inquiry before the Military Police Complaints Commission is hearing allegations from Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the ostensibly independent NIS whitewashed and fast-tracked three separate investigations and ignored crucial evidence to protect the military.

The couple say that their emotionally unstable son was suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder and that at least two of his army superiors at CFB Edmonton ordered him back to base and ignored his pleas for more treatment.

The military denies the accusation and says Stuart, an abuser of alcohol and drugs, was the author of his own misfortune.

He hanged himself 10 days after being ordered back at the end of 30 days’ psychiatric treatment.

Commission lawyer Mark Freiman read from Natynczyk’s 2010 letter — published while an NIS investigation into the Fynes complaints was still ongoing — and shortly after he had publicly apologized to the Fyneses for a breakdown in communications.

“Langridge received sound medical care from the best of what provincial and military medical systems can provide,” he wrote. “Sadly, despite the efforts of many assisting health care professionals, his close friends and the leaders of his regiment it was not enough. Last week I apologized for a mishandling of communications with the family of Langridge. I was not apologizing for the comprehensive medical care he received from some of the finest civilian and military practitioners the country has to offer; nor for the CF actions to respect and fulfill his last will and wishes.”

Dandurand agreed that the defence chief’s letter “touches directly” on his team’s investigation of the Langridge.

“Does it cause any concern,” Freiman asked, “when the chief of defence staff makes remarks that could be understood as him having come to conclusions about the ... investigation that for all the public knew was still open?”

“That doesn’t cause me great concern,” replied Dandurand. “Generals, particular of his calibre, are not absent of humility, and should our investigation (have) turned that opinion around full circle he would be prepared to deal with that in accordance with whatever best practice he would put into play.”

A skeptical-sounding Freiman asked: “So you have the highest military person in your chain of command commenting on an investigation that is still open, and offering conclusions ... that does not cause you any concern?”

“No, it doesn’t.”

During a day of intense questioning, Freiman read from internal military correspondence that showed that after Sheila Fynes held a “tell all” news conference in Ottawa two years ago, the internal military public relations machine cranked into top gear with high-level brass exchanging dozens of emails with Dandurand and his superiors.

Fynes got widespread media coverage that resulted in Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s criticizing the treatment she had received.

Freiman asked Dandurand about a special “Fynes Task Force” created within the Department of National Defence to handle all of the family’s dealings with the military.

“I didn’t view it as a take force per se,” said Dandurand. “There were various people that I know of who were involved in providing answers to the Fynes.”

Asked by Freiman if he knew any more about the task force, what it’s intentions were and how it operated, Dandurand replied:

“I can’t answer that right now.”

The inquiry continues

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DND edited report on Langridge suicide, inquiry told
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2012, 09:22:33 AM »
DND edited report on Langridge suicide, inquiry told

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/edited+report+Langridge+suicide+before+releasing+public/7352076/story.html#ixzz28WgeuhfC


OTTAWA -- Dogged by increasingly negative media coverage over the handling of investigations into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge, the Department of National Defence edited an internal police force report before releasing it publicly and to the soldier's family, a federal inquiry heard Friday.

The revelation at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry was one of several indications that the independence of the National Investigation Service (NIS), the military's detective agency, was compromised after Langridge's parents went public with their grievances.

The military interfered with the report "while preparing it for publication" in a pre-emptive effort to avoid a "sensational fact" getting to the media, said Commission lawyer Mark Freiman.

Throughout the months-long inquiry, a succession of NIS officers have repeated that their agency is fiercely independent and investigates regardless of rank.

The NIS was investigating complaints by Langridge's mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the original investigation into their son's death had been a whitewash to protect the military.

Two of their complaints related to the length of time their son's body was left hanging in a room at CFB Edmonton -- "like a piece of meat," said his mother -- and another about the withholding of Langridge's suicide note for 14 months.

Sheila Fynes came to Ottawa in late 2010 and held a news conference to air her complaints. The subsequent blast of publicity brought statements about the case from Defence Minister Peter MacKay and a partial apology from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

The first case report written in early 2011 by the NIS and sent to DND brass in Ottawa contained the length of time -- four and a half hours -- their son had been left hanging during the NIS investigation and references to the suicide note.

DND officers cut the "four and a half" hour reference and one reference to the suicide note before sending it to the Fynes' and apparently preparing it for public release.

Freiman asked former NIS western region commander Daniel Dandurand if there had been any reason for the regular Canadian Forces to edit an NIS document.

"Is it of any concern to you?" he asked.

"That would cause me some concern," replied Dandurand. "That the answers we were providing -- whatever those may be -- are being edited or changed while being transmitted to the family. Yes."

"From the point of view of the NIS is there any reason why the reference to the body hanging for four an a half hours would be removed?" Freiman asked.

"I can't think of anything," said Dandurand. "The Fynes' knew that."

"Does it suggest to you that it was a sensational fact that might find its way into the media?" asked Freiman.

"I don't know," said Dandurand. "I wouldn't be able to speak to what was going on in the person's mind doing that."

Freiman then produced NIS "media lines" about the case that Dandurand helped prepare with the police force's own public relations officer, and disseminated to other public relations officers in the Canadian Forces and ultimately to the media.

The media lines related to the end of the investigation and an announcement that the NIS had found no grounds to lay criminal or service charges.

Freiman read one of the "key messages" in the NIS media lines and asked Dandurand what it had to do with the NIS.

"The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces cares deeply about its personnel and their families and aspires to treat all members of the CF family with respect."

"What part of the NIS mandate, and what part of the NIS investigation is reflected in this message?" asked Freiman.

"I can't help but avoid being a member of the Canadian Forces and I'm quite proud at being so," said Dandurand. "And that definitely reflects my Canadian Forces hat as opposed to my military police hat and whether you (say) Canadian Forces or National Investigation Service the message is the same: We do care deeply."

"Should there be a mixing of your Canadian forces NIS hat and your Canadian Forces hat?" asked Freiman.

Dandurand said the media lines were likely shared with other public affairs officers in the regular military and did not, as Freiman suggested, mean that the regular military public relations arm would be taking over NIS media messages.

"I think it was to maintain situational awareness as to what each of them were dealing with," he said.

Earlier in his testimony, Dandurand said that some facts in media lines fed to journalists about the Langridge case were inaccurate -- a point raised Friday by Fynes' lawyer Joshua Juneau.

"If the Department of National Defence, with roughly 150 public affairs advisers are spending all this energy creating media lines that contain falsehoods how can we ever trust or believe the content of the media lines put out by the Department of National Defence?"

"I don't think it's my place to comment on that,' said Dandurand. "I'm not here to speak for DND."

The inquiry continues Tuesday and is due to end Wednesday.

Ottawa Citizen

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DND Were Allowed to Remove Material Embarrassing to the CF From NIS
« Reply #26 on: October 07, 2012, 03:31:50 PM »
National Investigation Service Supposed To Be Independent But Military/DND Were Allowed to Remove Material Embarrassing to the CF From NIS Investigation Into Soldier’s Suicide

http://blogs.ottawacitizen.com/2012/10/06/national-investigation-service-supposed-to-be-independent-but-militarydnd-was-allowed-to-remove-material-embarrassing-to-the-cf-from-nis-investigation-into-soldiers-suicide/

My colleague Chris Cobb had this article on today’s front page:

OTTAWA — Dogged by increasingly negative media coverage over the handling of investigations into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Stuart Langridge the Department of National Defence edited an internal police force report before releasing it publicly and to the soldier’s family, a federal inquiry heard Friday.

The revelation at the Military Police Complaints Commission inquiry was one of several indications that the independence of the National Investigation Service (NIS), the military’s detective agency, was compromised after Langridge’s parents went public with their grievances.

The military interfered with the report “while preparing it for publication” in a pre-emptive effort to avoid a “sensational fact” getting to the media, said Commission lawyer Mark Freiman.

Throughout the months-long inquiry, a succession of NIS officers have repeated that their agency is fiercely independent and investigates regardless of rank.

The NIS was investigating complaints by Langridge’s mother and stepfather Sheila and Shaun Fynes that the original investigation into their son’s death had been a whitewash to protect the military.

Two of their complaints related to the length of time their son’s body was left hanging in a room at CFB Edmonton — “like a piece of meat” said his mother — and another about the withholding of Stuart’s suicide note for 14 months.

Sheila Fynes came to Ottawa in late 2010 and held a news conference to air her complaints. The subsequent blast of publicity brought statements about the case from Defence Minister Peter MacKay a partial apology from Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Walter Natynczyk.

The first case report written in early 2011 by the NIS and sent to DND brass in Ottawa contained the length of time (four and a half hours) their son had been left hanging during the NIS investigation and references to the suicide note.

DND officers cut the “four and a half” hour reference and one reference to the suicide note before sending it to the Fynes’ and apparently preparing it for public release.

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/edited+report+Langridge+suicide+before+releasing+public/7352076/story.html
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Editorial: Inquiry into soldier’s suicide grows more disturbing
« Reply #27 on: October 08, 2012, 02:41:14 PM »
Editorial: Inquiry into soldier’s suicide grows more disturbing

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/story_print.html?id=7346277&sponsor=



It’s getting difficult to suppress a genuine sense of outrage with each passing day of the controversial federal inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge.

That inquiry resumed in Ottawa this week, after a two-month summer break, with the focus on some of the National Investigation Service officers who are the principle subject of the Langridge family’s complaint that the Canadian military whitewashed the investigation into his death at CFB Edmonton in 2008. Testimony this week concerning the handling of Langridge’s suicide note, withheld from his family for more than a year, has been particularly astounding.

Langridge, a veteran of Bosnian and Afghanistan tours, hanged himself after a long struggle with drugs and alcohol. He was 28 and had attempted suicide several times.

The Military Police Complaints Commission is holding the inquiry in response to claims by Sheila and Shaun Fynes, Langridge’s mother and stepfather, that three military inquiries into their son’s death were biased in favour of the military.

The Fynes maintain that their son’s treatment at CFB Edmonton contributed to his death. He killed himself shortly after being ordered back to his barracks following a 30-day stay at a psychiatric unit, and after being placed on a five-day work week of menial tasks such as snow clearing and trophy polishing.

His parents say their son was suicidal and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. The military denies Langridge had PTSD and says his problems were rooted in alcohol and drug abuse.

Among the most damning evidence to date has been the admission by military police that they withheld Langridge’s suicide note from his parents for 14 months. In that note, Langridge asked for a simple, family-only funeral. He received a full military service and his parents have said they were devastated when they discovered his final wishes had been hidden from the family. The military eventually apologized for the delay in turning over the note but it hasn’t been clear why it was withheld in the first place. This week the mystery has only grown.

After initially being impounded by the National Investigation Service as evidence, the note was never examined, according to the chief military investigator on the case, but instead placed in storage and “forgotten.”

Even when the Fynes became aware of the note, the military remained reluctant to turn it over. One detective assigned to the case actually suggested the Fynes might better pursue the matter — a rendering of their son’s final words — through a federal Access to Information request.

When it became clear the note’s existence was on the verge of becoming public, obviously rattled military personnel prepared “media lines,” essentially an approved series of responses, that contained misleading and erroneous information.

Since it first convened in March, the Langridge commission has sparked numerous angry clashes with the Conservative government over the censoring and withholding of Defence Department documents related to the case.

The commission has heard from more than 70 witnesses now, most of them military, and will likely draw to a close next week. There has been plenty of testimony about the carefully considered and strictly observed military protocols and procedures that attended Langridge’s death, and all the nuanced evidentiary rules that were followed. Precisely the sort of by-the-book treatment that, in real life, so often fails to detect a tree within the forest.

It has been said often enough that military justice is to justice as military music is to music, but the deeper this investigation delves into this solitary soldier’s sad circumstance, the more it cries out for some hard lessons learned, and sincere apologies delivered.
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Don’t shut Langride’s parents out of suicide probe’s final phase, lawyer urges

Family should see and comment on interim report: Drapeau
 
By Chris Cobb, The Ottawa Citizen October 8, 2012 8:01 PM

Read more: http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/shut+Langride+parents+suicide+probe+final+phase+lawyer+urges/7359885/story.html#ixzz28le6v6SA

http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/7359886.bin
Although soldier Stuart Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants at the inquiry into their son’s suicide, neither they nor their lawyer, Michel Drapeau, pictured on the right, are legally entitled to see, or comment on, a copy of the interim report and will only get the final report the day it is released publicly.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington , Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA — Top military brass and military lawyers will have almost total control over the outcome of the inquiry into the suicide of Afghanistan war veteran Cpl. Stuart Langridge unless the final phase of the process is significantly changed, says the lawyer for the late soldier’s family.

Although Langridge’s mother and stepfather, Sheila and Shaun Fynes, are the complainants, neither they nor their lawyer, Michel Drapeau, are legally entitled to see, or comment on, a copy of the interim report and will only get the final report the day it is released publicly.

“The (Military Police Complaints Commission) is investigating their complaints about the loss of their cherished son,” said Drapeau. “No one has a bigger interest in the outcome of these hearings than Mr. and Mrs. Fynes. Providing them with a copy of the interim report should be a no-brainer.

“By the time the Fynes get their hands on the report it will be fait accompli and be presented to them as a ‘take it’ or ‘leave it’ adding yet more aggravation, anguish and sorrow to a family who have already endured four long years of painful and heartbreaking torment.”

According to the National Defence Act under which the commission was created, an interim report must be produced by the commission and provided exclusively to various Canadian Forces officers including the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), the Judge Advocate General’s Office, which is the Canadian military’s legal arm, and the Provost Marshal’s office, which advises the CDS on internal policing.

“The military law is both an abnormality and an aberration and it goes against the universally accepted principles of fundamental justice,” said Drapeau, who will urge Defence Minister Peter MacKay to intervene and “redress this injustice.”

Drapeau says without an open process, the military can “cherry pick,” and pressure the commission into making changes at the interim report stage and, knowing what the commission’s final recommendations are likely to be, can institute cosmetic changes to blunt the impact of those recommendations.

“You don’t cut people off at the penultimate stage, shut the door and say, ‘You can’t come in here,’” said Drapeau. “And that’s exactly what will happen.”

The commission, which is scheduled to hear its last witness on Wednesday, has no power to order changes to military police procedure and can only make recommendations.

Among other measures, Drapeau wants the DND’s civilian deputy minister to oversee the department’s response to the commission’s interim report. “Mr. and Mrs. Fynes are ordinary Canadian citizens who have brought their complaints to a civilian body,” added Drapeau. “This is an issue for civilian society not the military. Civilian eyes should be looking at this interim report. I’m not being critical of the military police but this is too big for them to be allowed to say, ‘We’ll fix it, sir, now go away.

“The Canadian military has no compunction about using its formidable public affairs contingent to co-ordinate and craft a series of messages to the media to offset or frustrate a call for action or to promote or advance a given or directed course of action to protect the ‘brand,” said Drapeau.

The Fynes have brought 30 complaints against 13 members of the National Investigation Service (NIS) — the military’s internal detective agency.

They claim the initial NIS investigation into their son’s death was a whitewash intended to protect their son’s superiors at CFB Edmonton against negligence charges and that a second NIS probe launched into the original investigation was equally biased. It emerged at the inquiry that a third full investigation promised to the Fynes never happened.

Langridge, who served in Bosnia and Afghanistan, hanged himself at CFB Edmonton in March 2008 after five previous suicide attempts and 10 days after being ordered back to the base from a psychiatric hospital, placed under restrictions, and given menial tasks such as snow clearing and trophy polishing

Langridge’s base superiors say his drug and alcohol abuse caused his emotional problems and he was not, as his family claim, suffering from war-related post-traumatic stress disorder.

The inquiry has sat for about 60 days and has heard from almost 100 witnesses.

During the past two weeks, cracks have appeared in the NIS claims of ‘fierce independence’ from the regular military as evidence that vital and embarrassing information was cut from NIS investigator reports by both their own superiors and DND brass was introduced.

The complexity of the case likely means the interim process will take at least a year and the final report is unlikely to see the light of day until the spring or even fall of 2014.

Drapeau, a former army colonel who specializes in military cases, says he will fight for the right to see and comment on the interim report to put the Fynes on an equal footing with the military.

“We should also get an opportunity to see each other’s response to the interim report,” he said. “We should share and discuss our comments.”

Despite its legally-imposed limitations, the commission plays a crucial role, says Drapeau.

“(It’s) a most difficult task not aided by the combined culture of police that exalts loyalty and silence and the military’s emphasis on protecting the brand and reducing exposure to civilian control,” he said.

“The Fynes are most thankful and appreciative that the MPCC is the only available organization that not only took the time to listen to their complaints but spared no efforts to investigate their allegations in a most impartial and fair manner.”

Drapeau says he will make his formal claim for changes to the interim report process when he and government lawyers reconvene for a day next month to present their closing arguments to commission chairman Glenn Stannard.

Stannard refused to comment on Drapeau’s proposed challenge.

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Soldier's family paid $10,800 to correct death certificate
« Reply #29 on: October 08, 2012, 10:46:09 PM »
Soldier's family paid $10,800 to correct death certificate

Murray Brewster, The Canadian Press
Published Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012 9:30AM EDT

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-s-family-paid-10-800-to-correct-death-certificate-1.951196#ixzz28lebI8Sg



OTTAWA -- The family of a Canadian soldier who committed suicide spent just over $10,800 in court costs to correct mistakes made in the young soldier's death certificate and registration, errors for which they blamed National Defence.

But their lawyer, retired colonel Michel Drapeau, says a potential legal claim was dropped because Cpl. Stuart Langridge's parents feared it would create the perception they were out to profit from the 28-year-old's death.

Shaun and Sheila Fynes were also worried a lawsuit would impede an inquiry currently taking place before the Military Police Complaints Commission, he added.

"We had to drop it in order to strip the department of any claim to litigation privilege," Drapeau said.

Among other things, the death certificate listed the wrong next-of-kin and other "egregious errors," which the Fynes petitioned to have changed.

The parents were not asking for compensation for their son's death, but in warning of court action they were instead trying to recover the cost associated with correcting the legal, public record as it related to Langridge, who killed himself at his Edmonton barracks in March 2008.

"They would never ask for compensation -- ever," Drapeau said.

National Defence claims it had no hand in the death registration, but the family pointed out members of their son's regiment were on hand when it was filled out along with Langridge's ex-girlfriend.

The Fynes' threat of a lawsuit and the issue of solicitor-client privilege are at the heart of Defence Minister Peter MacKay's claim that the government must withhold certain documents from the inquiry commission.

Records that have been disclosed are so blacked out, they can easily be taken out of context, and the government is in "damage control and they're pushing back and it's like pulling teeth" to get information out of them, Drapeau said.

The federal government is covering the family's cost of legal representation as well as travel and expenses to attend the inquiry, he added.

But critics say it was granted "grudgingly" at the last minute before the opening of hearings.

"They certainly didn't do it with an open heart," said New Democrat veterans critic Peter Stoffer, who called on the Harper government to reimburse the family for the death certificate fix.

"The government should, with absolutely no estimation, pay that money back outside of the legal process. This is money they shouldn't even have to be suing for because (National Defence) screwed up and that cost the Fynes family $10,000."

Liberal MP Sean Casey, also a veterans critic, said "the government seems incapable of admitting mistakes. They're hiding behind solicitor-client privilege in order to justify untenable positions."

Langridge's parents accused military police of botching the investigation into his death by not pursuing a criminal negligence or even a disciplinary probe into the actions of members of the Lord Strathcona's Horse Regiment.

They say the veteran of Bosnia and Afghanistan suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD and was pushed over the edge following a month of civilian hospital care by the military's humiliating treatment of him.

The military disputes the PTSD claim and has presented medical records that state Langridge suffered from drug and alcohol addiction.

Expert testimony before the inquiry Monday looked at the question of whether military lawyers could -- or would -- cover up negligent performance of colleagues.

Lt.-Col. Bruce MacGregor, a former Crown prosecutor and senior officer at the military's Judge Advocate General branch, testified that military police and investigators seek advice from uniformed lawyers before laying charges.

Much of his testimony was in the abstract and meant to lay the foundation for the appearance later this week of the military police officers who investigated the death.

MacGregor defended the sweeping use of solicitor-client privilege when it comes to investigation reports and advice that found its way up the chain of command to chief of defence staff's office -- records the family maintains are crucial to understanding what happened.

"You have to have a free and frank ability to discuss certain things and sometimes an investigator might be going down a road that isn't the best legal path to take," he said.

"And you have to be able to sit there and you have to have an open and frank dialogue between the investigator and the prosecutor. If everything that is being said between and investigator and prosecutor is ultimately going to be disclosed, you're not going to get a freedom of thought."

Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/soldier-s-family-paid-10-800-to-correct-death-certificate-1.951196#ixzz28legh8pW



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