Russell Williams stripped of colonel rank
Published Friday, October 22, 2010 4:37PM EDT
Russell Williams, the shamed former commander of CFB Trenton, has been stripped of his rank and booted from the military following his conviction in two murders, two sex assaults and dozens of sex-related break-ins.
Williams, who once held the rank of colonel, will serve out his life sentences as a civilian after his military commission was officially revoked Friday afternoon.
The rank was officially revoked after Gov. Gen. David Johnston approved a request from Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk to undertake the disciplinary action.
"All Canadians have been stunned by the tragic events that led to the sentencing of Mr. Williams," said Natynczyk in a media release.
"His actions have constituted a fundamental breach of trust, duty and valour, upon which the commission is based. The removal of his commission and release from the CF is an important step towards closure for the CF community and Canadians alike."
Williams will serve two concurrent life sentences and won't have any chance of parole for 25 years, which is the strongest penalty under Canadian law. The sentence came after Williams admitted to the murders of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau and Jessica Lloyd.
In addition to losing his rank, the military said that the revocation of service also includes:
- The stripping of Williams' military medals
- Revocation of Williams' pay since his February arrest
- Denial of any severance pay
- Release under "service misconduct," which is the most severe military release possible
There has been much debate over both Williams' rank and his pension eligibility following his arrest last February.
While there was speculation that the military would launch a separate trial to strip his rank and pension, Canadian Forces officials have said such an action would be contrary to the country's laws, as no one can be tried twice for the same crime.
Additionally, the military has said that only Parliament has the ability to take away Williams' pensions, since he paid into the fund over his military career.
It's believed that Williams' pension will equal about $60,000 annually.
However, it's been reported that the victims could seek financial retribution from Williams through civil procedures.
Defence Minister Peter MacKay said that Williams' actions make him unworthy of serving in the military.
"Mr. Williams committed horrific crimes against citizens that the Canadian Forces swear to protect, and he is not worthy of the oath he took to serve Canadians as an officer of the Canadian Forces," said MacKay in a release.
"The Canadian Forces have undertaken all available actions to ensure that all possible sanctions are imposed against Mr. Williams and all possible benefits will be withdrawn from Mr. Williams, starting with the governor general's revocation of his commission this morning."
On Thursday, the military had said it was moving swiftly to dump Williams, but officials maintained that weeding Williams out earlier through testing would have been next to impossible.
"The truth is, we didn't miss anything that was visible," said Lt. Gen. Andres Deschamps. "I don't think we will ever get an answer to (why he did it.) We would like to understand because we would like to learn what we can from this tragedy."
Williams was making about $10,000 a month prior to his arrest, and he was commanding the country's largest airfield.
While the Canadian Forces are not planning a court martial, a probe has been launched into Williams' actions as a member of the military, said spokesperson Cmdr. Hubert Genest on Thursday.
"It's not complete yet, we are trying to see if there is evidence of anything that has happened, but we have found nothing so far."
With files from The Canadian Press