Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

September 15, 2008 11:23 ET

Charges Against Ex-Master-Corporal Clayton Matchee Withdrawn

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 15, 2008) - Captain (Navy) Holly MacDougall, the Canadian Forces Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), has withdrawn the charges against former Master-Corporal Clayton Matchee. Ex-MCpl Matchee was charged under section 130 of the National Defence Act with Torture, contrary to section 269.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada, and Murder, contrary to section 235(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. The charges arose as a result of the death of Shidane Abukar Arone, a Somalian teenager, on 16 March 1993, during the deployment of Canadian troops in Somalia.

The Director of Military Prosecutions is a separate and independent authority for military prosecutions who exercises prosecutorial discretion within the military justice system, free of influences, and based on legal principles and criteria.

While the charges have been outstanding against Ex-MCpl Matchee over the past 15 years, three parallel tracks were ongoing to deal with him. Firstly, the Saskatchewan Review Board held hearings at least once every 12 months to reassess Ex-MCpl Matchee's fitness to stand trial. Secondly, a Standing Court Martial was convened every two years to determine whether sufficient admissible evidence continued to exist to prosecute Ex-MCpl Matchee. Lastly, DMP, as part of the post-charge screening process, had the continuous requirement to assess whether the evidence continued to be sufficient to justify the continuation of charges and whether the public interest required the prosecution to be continued.

"The decision to withdraw the charges in this case was based on public interest considerations. These included the fact that Mr. Matchee has a permanent brain injury and will never be fit to stand trial, in addition to a recent determination that Mr. Matchee does not pose a significant threat to the community," says Lieutenant-Colonel Bruce MacGregor, Deputy Director of Military Prosecutions. "On February 12, 2008, the Saskatchewan Review Board directed that Mr. Matchee be discharged from the Saskatchewan Hospital and ordered an assessment of what risk, if any, Mr. Matchee poses to the community. During his extended stays out of the hospital and since his discharge, no incidents constituting risk to the community have been reported and the reports on his reintegration within the community have been positive." The withdrawal of the charges means that there will no longer be a requirement for the Saskatchewan Review Board nor the Standing Court Martial to conduct their respective reviews.

"Since the charges have been withdrawn, the laws that apply to Mr. Matchee are no different than those applicable to any other citizen suffering from a brain injury and requiring constant care and supervision," adds Lt Col MacGregor. "Future personal or public safety concerns, if any, can be dealt with appropriately through applicable provincial legislation."

For background information, please visit:

http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/newsroom/view_news_e.asp?id=2776

The DMP policy on post charge screening including a section entitled, The Public Interest Criteria, can be found at:

http://www.forces.gc.ca/jag/military_justice/cmps/policy_and_directives/policy3_e.asp.

More information regarding the Province of Saskatchewan's Saskatchewan Review Board can be found at:

http://www.justice.gov.sk.ca/saskatchewanreviewboard


BACKGROUNDER

EX-MASTER CORPORAL CLAYTON MATCHEE

Ex-MCpl Matchee was charged under section 130 of the National Defence Act (NDA) with second-degree murder and torture in connection with the 1993 death of Somali national Shidane Abukar Arone. On April 25, 1994, a General Court Martial found him unfit to stand trial as a result of a mental disorder.

The matter was then turned over to the Ontario Review Board, pursuant to section 202.25 of the National Defence Act. On May 25, 1994, the Ontario Review Board confirmed that Ex-MCpl Matchee was unfit to stand trial at his court martial and ordered that he be transferred to the province of Saskatchewan for the purpose of reintegration into society and for his recovery, treatment and continued custody. He was subsequently transferred to the Saskatchewan Hospital in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

In the past 15 years, three parallel tracks were ongoing to deal with the matter while the charges were outstanding against Ex-MCpl Matchee. First, at least every 12 months, the Saskatchewan Review Board had to hold a hearing to reassess Ex-MCpl Matchee's fitness to stand trial. Then, a Standing Court Martial had to be convened every two years to determine whether sufficient admissible evidence continued to exist to prosecute Ex-MCpl Matchee. Finally, DMP, as part of the post-charge process, had the continuous requirement to assess whether the evidence continued to be sufficient to justify the continuation of charges and whether the public interest required the prosecution to be continued.

Since 1994, the Saskatchewan Provincial Review Board has conducted regular reviews of the fitness of Ex-MCpl Matchee. The Saskatchewan Review Board has indicated that Mr. Matchee will never be fit to stand trial on the outstanding charges. In the past few years, the Review Board has gradually increased the length of Ex-Cpl Matchee's visits to his family home and to his local community to the point where on February 12, 2008, Ex-MCpl Matchee was discharged from the hospital to live in the community. A detailed assessment was ordered in respect of what risk, if any, Ex-MCpl Matchee poses to the community, after his discharge from the hospital. The risk assessment provided to the Review Board in April 2008 indicated that Ex-MCpl Matchee "represents no greater threat to the public than any other person with a cognitive defect". At a teleconference held by the Saskatchewan Review Board on September 8, 2008, it was indicated that during his extended stays out of the Saskatchewan Hospital and since his discharge in February of this year, no incidents constituting risk to the community have been reported.

At the last inquiry held on 24 September 2004 at a Standing Court Martial, the presiding judge ruled that the prosecution had adduced sufficient admissible evidence to put Ex-MCpl Matchee on trial. This decision is available on the Chief Military Judge web site at http://www.forces.gc.ca/cmj/inquiry/2004/2004cm014.i.pdf. The inquiry scheduled for 2006 was postponed as a result of joint applications presented by prosecution and defence counsel and was finally scheduled to commence on 16 September 2008.

Prior to this inquiry and based on the positive comments reported at the 8th of September teleconference, in accordance with her DMP Policy 003/00, Prosecutorial Discretion and Post-Charge Screening, the DMP has concluded that the public interest, including the interests of the CF, does not require that the prosecution against Ex-MCpl Matchee be continued.

With the withdrawal of charges by the DMP, Ex-MCpl Matchee is no different than any other citizen suffering from a brain injury and requiring constant care and supervision. Future personal or public safety concerns, if any, are more appropriately dealt with through applicable provincial legislation.

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