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Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan is sticking up for his department in the face of angry complaints from family members who want to see the results of an internal inquiry into the deaths of three Royal Military College students.

While the frustration felt by the families of Harrison Kelertas, Brett Cameron and Matthew Sullivan is understandable, it takes time to do a proper and complete investigation, Sajjan told a conference call Tuesday.

“We are actually trying to move as quickly as possible,” Sajjan said from Vietnam, where he was on an official visit. “But we want to do it in a responsible manner, that we do a thorough board of inquiry. It is extremely important that we get this right.”

The three young men, students at the prestigious college in Kingston, Ont., are believed to have taken their own lives in separate incidents in 2016, though officials have yet to confirm an official cause of death.

Formal hearings wrapped up early last year, but while families were told a final report would be released within a few months, officials say military lawyers are still reviewing the findings.

The families say they cannot get closure until they know what happened to their sons and what is being done to prevent similar tragedies.

Some have also expressed fears that the findings could end up being sanitized to protect the military and senior leaders.

Defence officials have denied such allegations, saying the investigation has been extremely complex, involving 90 witnesses and 30,000 pages of documents, all of which needs to be reviewed.

“We need to make sure that when we look into grave incidents like this that we leave no stone unturned,” Sajjan said of the delay in releasing the final report.

“We want to make sure that we have all the right facts in place so that we can look at the findings and make any necessary changes.”

NDP defence critic Randall Garrison called on National Defence to release the report immediately.

“My thoughts are with the families of these students who have been patiently waiting for answers for far too long,” Garrison said in an e-mail.

“The Department of National Defence needs to release the findings of this inquiry without further delay, so the families can get the closure they need.”

The families deserve answers, said Conservative defence critic James Bezan, “and we encourage the minister of national defence to provide them with some answers and allow the families to find closure during this difficult time.”

This isn’t the first time the military has come under fire for incomplete boards of inquiry; in 2013, it was revealed that dozens of inquiries into suspected military suicides were still unfinished – some more than five years old.

The Royal Military College inquiry is one of 15 involving suspected suicides by military personnel that are currently under review, according to the department.

While most were opened in 2016 or after, one dates back to 2011.

Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier would not comment on specifics about that seven-year-old case except to say that it was a “particularly challenging investigation.”

The board responsible for investigating the case was reconvened in 2015 to address unanswered questions, Le Bouthillier added, and the final report is awaiting approval.

In the case of the students, the Defence Department first ordered a formal board of inquiry be struck shortly after Kelertas’s body was found in his college dorm in April, 2016, only weeks before the Hudson, Que., native was due to graduate. The 22-year-old’s cause of death was listed as suspected suicide.

The inquiry was expanded a couple of weeks later when Cameron, who was in the same unit as Kelertas and considered the older student a mentor, also died at the college of suspected suicide. The 20-year-old was from London, Ont.

It was expanded yet again in August, 2016, after Sullivan, 19, who had spent months in a “holding platoon” doing odd jobs while waiting to be medically released, died the same day that he returned home to Saint John, N.B.

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