OTTAWA - Last-minute witness Kirk Lackie has been added to the public hearing into the suicide of Canadian soldier Stuart Langridge, prompting a flurry of objections from federal lawyers.
Mark Freiman, who represents the Military Police Complaints Commission, says the witness came forward just recently and has something relevant to add to the investigation into the handling of Cpl. Langridge's death.
Lackie, a friend of Langridge, is the unexpected addition to the witness list.
But Justice Department attorney Elizabeth Richards says bringing in a surprise witness may not be fair to the military cops accused of conducting a biased investigation into the Edmonton suicide.
Richards also says she's concerned because the witness has a criminal record and the Crown knows little about him.
The chair of the commission is expected to hear arguments on the issue later today.
In testimony Friday, lead investigator Sgt. Matthew Ritco was questioned about the fact his final report on the Afghan veteran's death was heavily rewritten and censored.
He said in previous testimony "direction that came down from higher" that there were to be two case summary files — one written by him and a rewritten version to be handed in to the chain of command, including Langridge's commanding officer.
The final draft removed all but one reference to the victim having been on suicide watch before his death, an important point in the question of whether the military was negligent in handling Langridge's case.
If Langridge had died while under such strict supervision, it would have obliged military police to open a criminal negligence investigation.
Ritco previously testified that he had "issues" with his name being on the second version of the report because two other people worked on it, but as the inquiry resumed Friday, he took a step back from his comments.
He told the inquiry that he stands by both versions as a fair representation of his investigation.
"My only concern was . . . just by my name being on the top of that text box; not the content, just the name," Ritco said.
Military cops did not initially look at whether members of the Lord Strathcona Horse regiment were culpable — something the family says should have been done from the outset.
The inquiry also delved into details of Ritco's investigation, questioning why he didn't interview Langridge's ex-girlfriend, who testified she'd been assured a suicide watch had been imposed.
The military cop testified he and his case supervisor decided not to talk to her, even though she was initially listed as an important witness.
Testimony also revealed that investigators also ruled out talking to Langridge's mother, Sheila Fynes, who had warned that her son might be a suicide risk.
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Start of War: Oct. 7, 2001
<em>American soldiers hide behind a barricade during an explosion, prior to fighting with Taliban forces November 26, 2001 at the fortress near Mazar-e-Sharif, northern Afghanistan. (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)</em>
Number of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan: 88,000
<em>US Marines with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed from the USS Bataan's Amphibious Ready Group arrive December 14, 2001 at an undisclosed location with field gear and weapons. (Photo by Johnny Bivera/Getty Images)</em>
Number of Troops at War's Peak
<em>U.S. Marines begin to form up their convoy at a staging area near Kandahar, Afghanistan, as they await orders to begin their trek to Kandahar to take control of the airfield 13 December, 2001. (DAVE MARTIN/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan at the war's peak: About 101,000 in 2010. Allies provided about 40,000.
<em>U.S. President Barack Obama delivers a televised address from the East Room of the White House on June 22, 2011 in Washington, D.C. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais-Pool/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Withdrawal plans: 23,000 U.S. troops expected to come home by the end of the summer, leaving about 68,000 in Afghanistan. Most U.S. troops expected to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, though the U.S. is expected to maintain a sizeable force of military trainers and a civilian diplomatic corps.
Number of U.S. Casualties
<em>American flags, each one representing the 4,454 American soldiers killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, move in the breeze at The Christ Congregational United Church March 17, 2008 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Number of U.S. casualties: At least 1,828 members of the U.S. military killed as of Tuesday, according to an Associated Press count. According to the Defense Department, 15,786 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action.
Afghan Civilian Casualties
<em>Asan Bibi, 9, sits on a bench as burn cream is applied to her at Mirwais hospital October 13, 2009 Kandahar, Afghanistan. She, her sister and mother were badly burned when a helicopter fired into their tent in the middle of the night on October 3rd, according to their father. (Photo by Paula Bronstein/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Afghan civilian casualties: According to the United Nations, 11,864 civilians were killed in the conflict between 2007, when the U.N. began reporting statistics, and the end of 2011.
Cost of the War
<em>An Iraqi man counts money behind a pile of American dollars in his currency exchange bureau in Baghdad on April 11, 2012. (ALI AL-SAADI/AFP/Getty Images)</em><br><br> Cost of the war: $443 billion from fiscal year 2001 through fiscal year 2011, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Number of Times Obama Has Visited Afghanistan
<em>US President Barack Obama speaks to troops during a visit to Bagram Air Field on May 1, 2012 in Afghanistan. (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images) </em><br><br> Number of times Obama has visited Afghanistan: 3 as president, including Tuesday, and 1 as a presidential candidate.