Captain dismissed from military
Captain dismissed from military
By The Canadian Press
GATINEAU, Que. - Army Capt. Robert Semrau has been dismissed from the military after the battlefield shooting of a Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan in 2008.
Semrau was convicted of disgraceful conduct but acquitted of second-degree murder and attempted murder.
The military judge, Lt.-Col. Jean-Guy Perron, reduced his rank to second-lieutenant and kicked him out of the Canadian Forces.
Perron said he could not find any precedents for sentencing in such a case.
"I will now state the obvious, this case is unique," he said.
He called the shooting "completely out of character" for Semrau, but he added that didn't mitigate the gravity of the offence.
Witnesses testified Semrau fired two shots into the body of a severely wounded insurgent and told them he wanted to put the man out of his misery.
The body was never recovered.
"In the military context, you committed a grave breach of discipline," Perron said.
"The profession of arms is synonymous with the management of violence," the judge said.
"You personally failed to abide by one of our most important principles: that of using force only in accordance with lawful orders."
The judge said he didn't think jail was appropriate.
He also said he didn't think it was right to dismiss Semrau from the Forces in disgrace,
a technicality which would have precluded his ever getting a government job or serving the Crown in any manner again.
The defence had asked for a reduction in rank and a severe reprimand,
while the prosecution wanted a sentence of two years less a day, plus dismissal.
Semrau, 36, is a married father of two girls. He had a spotless record with both the British and Canadian militaries before the shooting.
At the time of the incident, he was part of a team of Canadian soldiers assigned to the Afghanistan National Army as mentors.
The insurgent lay on the verge of death after an intense firefight that pitted Canadian and Afghan forces against the Taliban.
He had been strafed by a U.S. helicopter gunship and witnesses described devastating injuries,
including a severed leg and a gaping hole in his abdomen.
Witnesses said Afghan army troops refused to render medical aid.
An Afghan captain, who was on the patrol, testified the Taliban fighter was "98 per cent dead'' when he was found.
The trial travelled to Afghanistan to hear testimony from Afghan nationals.
The body was not recovered and Semrau's lawyer argued that the prosecution did not prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt,
saying the fog of war made it impossible to get an accurate picture of what happened that day.
The five-member court panel, the equivalent of a military jury,
spent more than two days considering the case against the officer before acquitting him on the most serious charges.
Semrau is a married father of two girls and had a spotless record with the British and Canadian militaries before the shooting.
The trial ran, off and on, over seven months.
He should have asked the Afghani's to do it, "if you want", and walked away.
┌∩┐(◣_◢)┌∩┐ America is at that awkward stage. It's too late to work within the system, but too early to shoot the bastards." - Claire Wolfe
"Possibly, but it's not to early to start loading ammo!" - Loki
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