Former chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance charged with obstruction of justice

Ottawa, July 16 (IANS) Former Canadian chief of defence staff Jonathan Vance has been charged with one count of obstruction of justice, according to the Ministry of National Defence.

The Ministry said the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) charged the now-retired general with one count of obstruction of justice, contrary to section 139 of the Criminal Code of Canada, on Thursday, reports Xinhua news agency.

The CFNIS assumed investigative responsibility for allegations of misconduct in the Canadian military on February 4, and it was during the course of this investigation that the obstruction of justice allegedly occurred.

The CFNIS is considered a specialised unit within the Canadian military police.

Its mandate is to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to military property, employees, and Canadian Armed Forces personnel serving in Canada and around the world.

The Ministry said the CFNIS decided to pursue the relevant criminal charge in the civilian justice system.

Now that this is proceeding through that system, the Ministry said, no further details can be released at this time.

This year, the Canadian Armed Forces have been rocked by sexual misconduct scandals, including investigations into allegations against Vance.

Almost two weeks after Vance retired as chief of the defence staff in January, Canadian media reports alleged that Vance had a “long-standing relationship with a female subordinate”.

It was later revealed that the alleged inappropriate relationship involved Kellie Brennan, a reservist and staff officer at the army headquarters in Ottawa.

The allegations against Vance have sparked two sets of parliamentary committee hearings where Brennan testified and revealed the allegations which appear to be the basis of the charge against Vance.

She claimed that Vance counselled her to lie to military police, claiming to have tape recordings.

Vance denied the allegations.

The allegations touched off a series of revelations and accusations involving other senior leaders in the Canadian military, including Vance’s successor Art McDonald who voluntarily stepped aside in February after sexual misconduct allegations against him.

The investigations into both senior leaders set off a crisis within the Canadian military, which has been grappling with the scourge of sexual misconduct for decades.



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