Saskatchewan

Charges withdrawn for former Canadian soldier accused of killing Somali teen

Charges of murder and torture have been withdrawn against the ex-soldier accused 15 years ago of mistreating and killing a Somali teenager, the Department of National Defence said Monday.

Brain damage means Matchee will never be fit to stand trial, DND says

Charges of murder and torture have been withdrawn against the former Canadian soldier accused 15 years ago of mistreating and killing a Somali teenager, the Department of National Defence said Monday.

There is no possibility that Clayton Matchee, a master corporal during Canada's peacekeeping mission in the African country, would ever be fit to stand trial, according to a military official. The department also revealed that Matchee had been released from a Saskatchewan psychiatric hospital earlier this year.

"The decision to withdraw the charges in this case was based on public interest considerations," Lt.-Col. Bruce MacGregor, deputy director of military prosecutions, told CBC News.

"Matchee has a permanent brain injury and will never be fit to stand trial," MacGregor said.

MacGregor said that on Feb. 12, 2008, the Saskatchewan Review Board, a provincial body that oversees patients held at a psychiatric hospital, directed that Matchee be discharged.

MacGregor said officials believe Matchee does not "pose a significant threat to the community," based upon assessments done in Saskatchewan.

The military reported that during previous extended stays out of the hospital and since Matchee's discharge, no incidents constituting risk to the community have been noted.

Matchee has been living with his mother, Celine Matchee, on the Flying Dust First Nation, adjacent to Meadow Lake, Sask., since his release from hospital in February.

She told CBC News she is thrilled with the military's decision. She added she would have liked for her son to be in a condition to face the accusations made against him.

"I would have given anything for him to get better and he could have answered for himself," she said. "That was never going to happen. He's brain damaged."

She also told CBC that she will try to find long-term institutional care for her son. She said as long as the charges still loomed, no facilities would take Clayton.

Matchee had been charged with second-degree murder and torture in connection with the 1993 death of Somali national Shidane Abukar Arone, 16. Arone was accused of breaking into the Canadian Forces compound.

On April 25, 1994, a general court martial found him unfit to stand trial as a result of a mental disorder. The disorder stemmed from brain damage suffered by Matchee in a suicide attempt. After he was charged, Matchee was found hanging in his cell.

The withdrawal of the charges means that there will no longer be a requirement for Matchee's case to be reviewed by any official agencies.