A Sylvan Lake former Canadian armed forces soldier accused of being a hitman and killing a gangster in Thailand in 2022 was flown to the country over the weekend to stand trial.
Matthew Dupre, 37, was taken from Red Deer Remand Centre on May 26, then flown by RCMP plane from Calgary to B.C. last Friday. Under heavy security, he was put on a Royal Thai Air Force jet and landed in Bangkok Sunday, said his Red Deer lawyer Maurice Collard on Tuesday.
Dupre was interrogated and will now await a bail hearing, said Collard, who helped Dupre navigate through the complicated extradition process so he could go to Thailand to clear his name.
Thai authorities accused Dupre and alleged accomplice, Gene Lahrkamp, 36, of gunning down Canadian international drug cartel leader Jimi Sandhu in Phuket on Feb. 4, 2022. Lahrkamp, who had also served as a soldier, died in a small plane crash in northern Ontario in May 2022.
Sandhu was raised in Abbotsford, B.C. and rose through the criminal ranks to become a United Nations gangster. He was deported from Canada in 2016 for his long criminal history and ended up in Thailand.
Thai police allege he was killed in a gangland hit.
Dupre was arrested by RCMP in his Sylvan Lake home on Feb. 20 2022.
The Dupre file was passed on to Collard by well-known Toronto lawyer, James Lockyer, and Order of Canada recipient and head of The Innocence Canada.
Under Thai law, the only available punishment is death by lethal injection if Dupre is found guilty of the murder, said Collard.
Federal Justice Minister and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti has told Collard in writing that he is satisfied by assurances that Dupre would not serve the death penalty received by way of a diplomatic note from the Thai embassy in Ottawa.
“I, and other members of Matthew’s legal team, are not confident in this assurance,” said Collard.
Collard will travel soon to Thailand to meet with his client, the Thai attorney general and Dupre’s legal team, which includes a U.S. lawyer experienced in extradition cases.
So far, Dupre has been coping in custody.
“He is positive. The last information I have is he is being treated well and I hope that that continues,” said Collard. “I will be making arrangements to go see him in the very near future.”
Dupre served for nine years in the Canadian Armed Forces and served in Afghanistan. He later became a private security contractor in Iraq and Syria.
“He fought terrorists. He watched his friends be killed in war,” said Collard. “He did this so Canadians could be safe and risked his life so we could have peace.”
Collard said he has “seen no direct evidence” linking Dupre to Sandhu’s killing.
He also takes issue with how his client was treated under Canada’s justice system.
“He was arrested in his bed, in his home, in Sylvan Lake, at gunpoint, holding his newborn daughter who had been born in the same bed just hours prior.”
In the following 15 months, Dupre remained locked up in Canada.
“Mr. Dupre has always wanted to have a trial to contest this. He did not want to languish, as he has, without charge or trial, for well over a year.”
Collard said he successfully advanced Dupre’s requested extradition through the court system, working closely with Canadian legal officials and an international assistance group.
“Mr. Dupre is happy he is no longer languishing in jail in Canada and can start to fight these allegations.”
“As there is real potential for the death penalty being imposed upon a Canadian citizen, veteran and father, no stone can be left unturned. The death penalty affords no margin for error.”