Thu, Jan 08, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Court hears case of Canadian officer in Afghan shooting

AFP , OTTAWA

A Canadian officer allegedly shot to death an unarmed and severely wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, a military court heard on Tuesday.

Captain Robert Semrau, 35, was leading a group of Canadian and Afghan soldiers when they were ambushed by presumed Taliban insurgents on Oct. 19, court documents said.

A US helicopter gunship helped rout the attack and the soldiers soon moved on, but not before stumbling upon a “severely wounded male insurgent” clutching an assault rifle.

The Canadian Forces National Investigation Service said it charged Semrau with one count of second-degree murder for “shooting, with intent to kill, an unarmed male person.”

The court heard the insurgent had been disarmed by one of the Afghan soldiers in Semrau’s company before he was killed.

“Captain Semrau was [then] observed to be the only person in close proximity to the severely wounded insurgent. During this period, two shots were heard and at least one witness reports that he saw Captain Semrau firing his rifle at the severely wounded insurgent,” court documents said.

The prosecution said it believes Semrau fired both shots without lawful justification, killing the wounded man.

However, the court documents also state that the insurgent’s “wounds appeared too severe for any type of treatment.”

The body was not recovered.

Canada has about 2,750 soldiers serving among the nearly 70,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan under NATO and US command.

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