Hillier contradicts diplomat

OTTAWA — A bristling Rick Hillier has blasted claims by diplomat Richard Colvin that the military handed over Afghan prisoners to face torture, calling the allegation “ludicrous.”

OTTAWA — A bristling Rick Hillier has blasted claims by diplomat Richard Colvin that the military handed over Afghan prisoners to face torture, calling the allegation “ludicrous.”

The former chief of the defence staff told a Commons committee today reports from Afghanistan in 2006 never mentioned that prisoners were at risk of torture.

“We didn’t base our work on things like reports written in May or June 2006, which said nothing about abuse, nothing about torture or anything else that would have caught my attention or indeed the attention of others,” he said.

He was backed by Michel Gauthier, former head of Canada’s expeditionary forces, who said reports in 2006 and early 2007 never even used the word torture — except in one isolated incidence.

The testimony from Canada’s former top generals appears to flatly contradict Colvin — the former No. 2 at the Canadian embassy in Kabul — who told MPs his reports warned that prisoners handed over to Afghan prisons were almost certain to face torture.

Hillier, who commanded the Canadians Forces from February 2005 until July 2008, said he wasn’t going to act on hearsay or self-serving Taliban complaints. He said he recently reread the reports to reassure himself that he didn’t miss something.

“There was no reason based on what was in those reports for anybody to bring it to my attention.”

Gauthier said he first heard of torture allegations in April 2007 from a Globe and Mail reporter, and the first field report citing credible evidence of torture was received on June 4, 2007.

He said he never received Colvin’s reports at the time, likely because his staff didn’t feel they were important enough.

Colvin also alleged that many innocent farmers were arrested by Canadian troops and turned over to the Afghans.

“Nothing could be farther from the truth,” an indignant Hillier responded.

The vast majority of detainees were caught after attacks, he said, and were found to have explosive residue on their hands and gunshot residue on their clothing. If innocent farmers were swept up, he added, they would have been quickly released.

The retired general said it’s “ludicrous” to suggest that all detainees turned over by Canadian troops were tortured.

, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet ministers have insisted they never knew of the torture reports at the time.

Defence Minister Peter MacKay and other Conservative MPs have attacked Colvin’s credibility, suggesting — as did Hillier — that his reports were based on hearsay. The attacks came despite the fact that Colvin was promoted to an intelligence job at Canada’s embassy in Washington.

However, they acknowledge that the government changed its policy on prisoner transfers in 2007, to include closer monitoring of those handed over, based partly on Colvin’s advice.

The opposition wants to see his reports and other documents the government may have on the topic of abuse. MPs say they can’t get to the bottom of the issue without seeing the papers.

Just Posted

Ponoka man dies following motorcycle crash

Ponoka RCMP continue to investigate

Wet conditions hampering haying efforts

Crops throughout central Alberta doing decently for now

Chuckwagon race safety up for review after six horses die during Stampede event

CALGARY — Injuries have forced a veterinary medical team to euthanize three… Continue reading

Missing woman found safe

Red Deer RCMP thank public

Missing man found safe

Red Deer RCMP thank public

Visitors flock to Bluebird Festival

Annual festival takes place east of Blackfalds

Global concern grows over Canada’s funding of fight against AIDS, TB, malaria

OTTAWA — International concern is growing in medical and development circles that… Continue reading

Your Ward News editor hate trial could be re-opened; judge delays sentencing

TORONTO — A convicted hatemonger who maintains his defence lawyer deliberately threw… Continue reading

NATO secretary general meets Trudeau in Canada amid Russia, U.S.-Iran tensions

PETAWAWA, Ont. — In a visit to an Ottawa Valley military base… Continue reading

Parliamentary committee on public safety takes up Desjardins data breach

OTTAWA — A parliamentary committee is grappling with the consequences of a… Continue reading

You don’t feel alientated, Trudeau tells western Canadians

National unity is not being threatened by the federal government’s attack on… Continue reading

America poised to turn its back on Afghan quagmire

There is movement toward peace in Afghanistan – or at least toward… Continue reading

It takes determinaton, and luck, to get an old bike running again

I recently mentioned a friend of mine, Gary, had opened a two-wheeled… Continue reading

Ottawa’s Gabriela Dabrowski falls in Wimbledon women’s doubles final

WIMBLEDON, England — Gabriela Dabrowski fell one victory short of her first… Continue reading

Most Read