Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Captain Semrau released on bail today.

Here's what we learned from today's bail hearing. The court was told that a unit headed by Semrau was ambushed by Taliban insurgents on Oct. 19 in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

After calling in US Air Support following which Capt. Semrau and his unit moved forward to find the severely wounded Taliban fighter and another dead insurgent. As per military procedure, Semrau proceded to take pictures of the two insurgents This was agreed to in statements by both the defense and prosecution.

As reported in the media, during this period, two shots were heard and at least one witness reports that he saw Capt. Semrau "firing his rifle at the severely wounded insurgent," according to the statement read to the court by Maj. Trudel.

Following this the Soldiers moved on and the bodies of the two insurgents were "left behind and not recovered."

"After evaluating all available evidence, the prosecution believes that it was Capt. Semrau who fired both shots, that these shots resulted in the death of the severely wounded insurgent and that Capt. Semrau had no lawful justification for shooting the severely wounded insurgent," Maj. Trudel told the court, as reported in The National Post.

Now we wait and see how this plays out. The few sentences regarding the events of Oct 19, 2008 do not depict the size and duration of the conflict. Some things I've read suggest that it was a very large operation involving British and other coalition troops, but I can't separate out the part that Captain Semrau's Mentor Liaison Team played in the overall action.

Let me just point out that "left behind and not recovered" is military speak for there was not a body to be found after the action was completed. Perhaps this may prove problematic for the prosecution. Scott Taylor, former Canadian Soldier and founder of Esprit de Corps Magazine has speculated that this may have been a 'mercy killing'.

In the absence of a body how do we prove it was a 'killing' at all. Hopefully the court proceedings will be transparent so that justice can be seen to be done.

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