OTTAWA — The Canadian military says it will proceed with a court martial of one of its former mission commanders in Afghanistan over an alleged sexual affair with a subordinate while in the theatre of war.
The Canadian Forces director of military prosecutions says Brig.-Gen. Daniel Menard will face charges of inappropriate conduct.
Investigators laid the charges in July and Menard’s subordinate, Master Cpl. Bianka Langlois, was convicted in a summary trial Sept. 28 of one count of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline. She was reprimanded and fined $700.
Menard, a 26-year army veteran, was Canada’s task force commander in Afghanistan at the time the affair allegedly took place. A married father of two, he was removed from his post in June and ordered home in disgrace.
He will be tried on two counts of conduct to the prejudice of good order and discipline and four counts of obstructing justice. Officials did not explain the latter charges. No date has been set.
Military regulations bar soldiers, even married couples, from having intimate relations on deployment.
“Following referral to the Canadian Forces director of military prosecutions, the charges facing Brig.-Gen. Menard were reviewed and subsequently brought forward or ’preferred’ to Court Martial,” said a Defence Department release.
“The Court Martial Administrator will convene the Court Martial at the first available date and at a location to be determined.”
Under military law, Menard has a choice between facing trial by military judge alone — a standing court martial — or by a military judge and a five-member panel of officers — a general court martial.
In the latter case, only the most senior of the five officers must outrank Menard.
The maximum penalty for obstruction of justice is 10 years in prison, said Lt.-Col. Bruce MacGregor, director of military justice policy. For the conduct charges, the maximum penalty is dismissal with disgrace, which would all but rule out any chance Menard could re-enlist.
The case came to light last spring after a court martial fined Menard $3,500 for negligently firing two rounds from his assault rifle.
The decision to cashier Menard in a public fashion drew criticism and prompted a public debate about the Forces’ strict punishment for fraternization.