Canada military charges soldier with murder of Afghan citizen

[JURIST] The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS) [official backgrounder] on Friday charged [press release] Captain Robert Semrau with second-degree murder in the killing of an Afghan citizen. Semrau is specifically charged under the National Defense Act [text] with shooting, with the intent to kill, an unarmed Afghan male in the Helmand province of Afghanistan in October. Semrau was stationed with the Operational Mentor and Liaison Team [Toronto Star report], which works with and trains the Afghan Army.

The facts of the case raise questions concerning the timeliness of the charges. According to human rights lawyer Paul Champ, the delay between the alleged conduct and the filed charges is the "biggest concern" [Canadian Press report]. Champ went on to compare the reporting delay with the reporting malfeasance by military police in the 1993 torture and murder of a Somalian teenager by the Canadian Airborne Regiment. Steven Staples of The Rideau Institute [advocacy website] agrees with Champ's comparison to the Somalian incident, saying "I think Canadians harbour a fear that as we get more drawn into Afghanistan that we could have a repeat of that terrible situation." Retired Colonel Chris Corrigan believes that the delay could simply be a result of a large number of other inquiries.

 

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