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Legal professional Common Says Snafus' Planning of Desmond Investigation Is Deliberate, However Legal professional Isn't So Certain – World Information

Nova Scotia Attorney General Mark Furey says Snafus's planning is hindering the resumption of a high-level investigation into why former soldier Lionel Desmond killed his family and himself in January 2017.

But Adam Rodgers, an attorney who represents one of Desmond's sisters, said Thursday that planning isn't the problem.

"My understanding in speaking with the investigator was that all of these (appointment) arrangements were made with other judges and the space for the dates was available in November and December," Rodgers said in an interview.

"When the minister says that these discussions have to take place and that is the cause of the delay, I do not think that this is correct."

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Desmond Fatality investigation delayed again, family calls it shameful and despicable

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On Wednesday, Rodgers and his colleague Tara Miller said the provincial government was responsible for delays that make the investigation impossible to reopen until early next year. The hearings, held in a small municipal building in Guysborough, New South Wales, have been suspended since March 2nd.

Miller, who represents another of Desmond's sisters, said Wednesday the judge who led the investigation had indicated back in July that the hearings should be moved to Port Hawkesbury, where there is more space for physical distancing protocols.

On Thursday, Furey suggested that the Justice Department's judicial services division was still working out the details of a possible move, and he said the investigating commissioner, provincial court judge Warren Zimmer, was still discussing the planning with other judges.

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"If they actually choose the Port Hawkesbury plant, these are some of the factors that will affect the schedule," Furey said after a cabinet meeting in Halifax. "We know this is a difficult time for the Desmond family and the ward."

When asked about the attorneys' allegations that the Justice Department was responsible for the last delay, he said, "I cannot speak for what these people said."


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2:06The family says race and racism have not yet been addressed in the Lionel Desmond inquiry


The family says race and racism have not yet been addressed in the Lionel Desmond inquiry

Rodgers said the continued delay is hurting his client and the rest of the Desmond family. "We're talking about trauma here," he said. "If it is postponed, it just means additional trauma. It has a big impact on families."

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Rodgers also said the investigation's work is important to members of the military and their families. "We want to significantly improve the way military personnel are treated and how their families are treated," he said.

"And the longer it takes before we can make recommendations, the worse people will be in the meantime."

On January 3, 2021, it will be four years since Desmond, a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, fatally shot and killed his 31-year-old wife Shanna, their 10-year-old daughter Aaliyah, and a semi-automatic rifle, his mother Brenda Desmond, 52.

The provincial fatal investigation was first announced in December 2017 after Desmond's twin sisters Chantel and Cassandra raised questions about their brother's inability to receive adequate treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder after he was discharged from the army in 2015.

The investigation began with hearings in January of this year, but the case was suspended in March after the COVID-19 pandemic broke out. Since then, plans to resume the investigation in May, September and November have been abandoned.

This Canadian press report was first published on October 29, 2020.

© 2020 The Canadian Press

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