Surprise witness comes forward at Langridge suicide inquiry
The Canadian Press
Posted: Sep 14, 2012 2:11 PM MT
Last Updated: Sep 14, 2012 5:52 PM MT
A last-minute witness has been added to the public hearing into the suicide of a Canadian soldier, 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.
Kirk Lackie, a friend of Langridge, is the unexpected addition to the witness list.
But Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards says bringing in a surprise witness may not be fair to the military cops accused of conducting a biased investigation into the Edmonton suicide.
Richards also says she's concerned because the witness has a criminal record and the Crown knows little about him.
The chair of the commission is expected to hear arguments on the issue later today.
Final report rewritten, censored
In testimony Friday, lead investigator Sgt. Matthew Ritco was questioned about the fact his final report on the Afghan veteran's death was heavily rewritten and censored.
He said in previous testimony "direction that came down from higher" that there were to be two case summary files — one written by him and a rewritten version to be handed in 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 previously testified that he had "issues" with his name being on the second version of the report because two other people worked on it, but as the inquiry resumed Friday, he took a step back from his comments.
He told the inquiry that he stands by both versions 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," Ritco said.
Military cops did not initially look at whether members of the Lord Strathcona Horse regiment were culpable — something the family says should have been done from the outset.
The inquiry also delved into details of Ritco's investigation, questioning why he didn't interview Langridge's ex-girlfriend, who testified she'd been assured a suicide watch had been imposed.
The military cop testified he and his case supervisor decided not to talk to her, even though she was initially listed as an important witness.
Testimony also revealed that investigators also ruled out talking to Langridge's mother, Sheila Fynes, who had warned that her son might be a suicide risk.
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