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    Canada’s former top soldier pleads guilty to obstruction of justice charge

    (Reuters) - Canada's former top soldier pleaded guilty on Wednesday to one charge of obstruction of justice in connection with his behavior during a probe into accusations of inappropriate behavior with two female subordinates, his lawyer said.

    General Jonathan Vance "apologizes and takes responsibility for his part in this matter," his lawyer said in a statement.

    The Canadian defense ministry had charged Vance last year with obstructing justice and was under investigation over the complaints. Vance has acknowledged one relationship, but denies impropriety.

    Vance appeared virtually in an Ottawa court where he entered the guilty plea and sought a discharge. The judge accepted a joint request from both prosecution and defence and sentenced him to a conditional discharge, plus 12 months of probation, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp reported.

    The Canadian military has been under pressure over allegations of sexual misconduct by senior officers, including Vance. Critics have complained the armed forces are not doing nearly enough to address systemic problems with sexual harassment.

    While declining to directly comment on Vance, Defense Minister Anita Anand told reporters on Wednesday that her "responsibility is to continue to build an institution where everyone can work with the respect and the protections that they need to do their jobs on behalf of our country."

    Anand was appointed Canada's defense minister last year.

    (Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru; editing by Edward Tobin)




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