ontario news watch

Soldier cleared of charges related to alleged incidents in Nova Scotia

OTTAWA — A member of the Canadian Armed Forces has been found not guilty of sexual assault and forcible confinement after prosecutors declined to present any evidence against him.

Master Cpl. Anthony Chand was charged in February 2020 with sexual assault, sexual assault causing bodily harm, forcible confinement and harassing communication, as well as a fifth charge of prejudice to good order and discipline that was later dropped.

The charges were in connection with a number of incidents that allegedly occurred between December 2014 and July 2015 in Dartmouth and Halifax, while Chand was serving with the Military Operations Support and Intelligence Centre, known as Trinity.

But the Defence Department says military prosecutors withdrew the charge of harassing communications on the first day of Chand’s court martial Monday, due to a jurisdictional issue.

Prosecutors also told the court that new evidence had emerged that led them to believe they no longer had any reasonable chance of a conviction on the remaining three charges.

Military judge Commander Sandra Sukstorf subsequently declared Chand not guilty on Tuesday after the prosecution opted not to present any evidence against him.

Chand’s lawyer Maj. Francesca Ferguson welcomed the verdict for her client, who is now an image tech at the Canadian Forces College in Toronto.

“It is always important for the military justice system to respect the presumption of innocence and to ensure that only cases which have sufficient evidence to proceed to trial actually move forward,” Ferguson said in a statement provided by the Department of National Defence.

“Master Cpl. Chand has maintained his innocence since the charges were first laid. Hopefully now Master Cpl. Chand can move forward without the stigma of these accusations hanging over him.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 2, 2021.

The Canadian Press