March 6, 2021
Former captain found guilty of raid torture
Subject of Somali inquiry: Corporal kidnapped and assaulted during La Citadelle exercise
The Canadian Press
Former Canadian Airborne Regiment captain Michel Rainville faces 14 years in prison for the 1992 torture of a subordinate. In 1993, Rainville allegedly offered to buy a case of beer for the first soldier to kill a Somali during a security patrol.
A former Canadian Airborne Regiment captain has been found guilty of torturing a subordinate during a military training exercise.
Michel Rainville led a commando-style raid on La Citadelle, a historic fortress in Quebec City, during which a corporal was kidnapped and assaulted.
Rainville achieved national notoriety for leading a platoon in Somalia in 1993 that killed a civilian.
In a 20-page judgment, Pierre Verdon, a Quebec Court judge, said he did not agree with legal arguments submitted by Rainville, nor did he believe his testimony.
Rainville, who pleaded not guilty, faces a maximum of 14 years in prison when he is sentenced on March 26. He has 30 days to appeal the decision.
René Verret, the Crown attorney, said: "I didn't expect it, but I wished that the judgment would be like this," Mr. Verret said. "We are very happy of course."
The charges arose from a military training operation on Feb. 7, 1992, dubbed "Adieu Bonhomme," designed to test the security of the facility.
François Savage, a former corporal who was posted at La Citadelle, testified he was tortured, interrogated and abused by members of the 15-man commando patrol led by Rainville who had stormed his sleeping quarters in the middle of the night.
Mr. Savage told the court a soldier shoved a police baton into his anus so hard he was almost lifted off the ground, and that later, while he was bound with military duct tape face down on a bed, another soldier inserted the barrel of a rifle into his anus.
"If you have any final prayers, say them now," Mr. Savage testified he was told by one of the balaclava-clad commandos who had pressed a cocked 12 gauge shotgun firmly against the prone soldier's neck.
During Rainville's trial in August, Michel Guignard, a former corporal who served alongside the officer in the Royal 22nd Regiment -- the Van Doos -- said he couldn't believe the attack was perpetrated by members of his own regimental family.
"We're in the Van Doos, but we have a heart. [The regiment] was it, my family ... we would have gone to war for you."
Mr. Guignard described the raid as "the worst 45 minutes of my life.
"I have no life any more, I'm living on the fringe ... I've lost my wife ... I tried to kill myself, I went into psychiatric care. I'm dead inside."
Mr. Verret said: "At the time, no charges were laid by the military authorities, and [Rainville] was not charged and brought to a court martial.
"But Mr. Savage has always continued with this process, and in the end he went to [General Maurice] Baril, [the Chief of Defence Staff] who decided then to let the civil authorities look at the case."
Rainville gained notoriety when he was castigated by the Somalia Commission of Inquiry for allegedly offering to buy a case of beer for the first soldier to kill a Somali during a March 4, 1993, security patrol.
Rainville was alleged to have told his soldiers he would buy a "six-pack for a wound, and a 24 for a kill."
Hours later, soldiers under Rainville's direct command shot two Somalis, killing one.
Rainville, who was considered by superiors to be a renegade, was later charged under military law with causing bodily harm and negligent performance of duty. He was found not guilty and left the Canadian Forces to begin studies in physical education.
In their report, members of the Somalia Commission found much of Rainville's testimony about the shooting incident to be unbelievable.
They said the officer should never have been deployed to Somalia, citing "obvious and serious discipline, judgement, and leadership flaws."
The Somalia Commission report makes mention of the incident at La Citadelle as an example of Rainville's poor leadership and his penchant for wild commando tactics. The report also brings up an incident on May 15, 1992, during a training exercise at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown involving the taking of prisoners.
"Capt. Rainville struck several 'captured' officers and soldiers, including most notably Capt. Sandra Perron [one of Canada's first female army combat officers] ostensibly to simulate the treatment of POWs," the report found.