Canadian soldier charged with second-degree murder in death of presumed insurgent


SOF Support
Feb 8, 2007
Land of Swine and Maple Syrup
Part of me is surprised that it's taken this long for our leadership to hang one of our guys out to dry like this but for the most part all I'm thinking is WTF! :uhh::rolleyes: There's a lot of speculation of what really happened, I have my own and I doubt that we'll ever hear the real story. I hope he doesn't do time; from what I've heard, he sounds like a good guy and a good leader.

Canadian soldier charged in death of presumed insurgent

Last Updated: Friday, January 2, 2009 | 11:52 AM ET Comments892Recommend219

CBC News


Capt. Robert Semrau, shown in here in October preparing to go to battle, has been charged with second-degree murder in relation to the shooting death of a man in Afghanistan.

A captain with the Canadian Forces has been charged in connection with the death of a presumed insurgent in Afghanistan's Helmand province.
Robert Semrau, originally from Pembroke, Ont., was charged with one count of second-degree murder on Wednesday, military officials said Friday in a news release.
Semrau is accused of shooting a man with the intent to kill. The man is alleged to have been unarmed at the time of his death, according to a Canadian Forces press release.
Semrau is being held in military police custody in Afghanistan, and is expected to be returned to Canada for a hearing before a military judge. If convicted, he faces 25 years in prison.
Officials said they will not be commenting further because part of the investigation is ongoing.
Canadian soldiers were mentoring Afghan soldiers in Helmand province at the time of the death in October.
That month, Afghan soldiers were defending the Helmand capital, Lashkar Gah, from a prolonged attack by insurgents. The soldiers were being supervised by Canadian military mentors with NATO's Operational Mentoring and Liaison Team, and were backed up by British forces.
Prepared for battle

In a taped video interview with Semrau filmed in October for the Digital Video and Imagery Distribution System, a U.S.-army run website that publishes military-related audio-visual materials, he said the Canadian OMLT soldiers were preparing to go into Lashkar Gah for an operation with the Afghan army.
Semrau said he was looking forward to going south for the battle.
"It beats sitting in the barracks, thumb up bum. It's a lot more fun doing the job," he said.
Semrau said the Canadian members of the OMLT had been working with the Afghan National Army for about a month and a half at the time.
They're "really good guys — motivated," he said. "They're well into it, so we're going to have a good go."
The Canadians on the OMLT, who come from the 1st and 2nd Battalion of the Royal Canadian Regiment, have been operating with the mentoring team since August. The program embeds small groups of soldiers with the Afghan army for a period of about six months.
Semrau was a commanding officer in the OMLT.
Afghan and NATO officials have previously stated that about 100 Taliban died during the fighting in Lashkar Gah.
Afghan Gen. Sher Muhammad Zazai has acknowledged Canadians were involved in fighting in Helmand, which began on Oct. 16.
The battle, which also involved air strikes, ended Oct. 18.
So many Taliban fighters died during the defence of the capital that it is impossible to say how they all died, Zazai said.
But military officials have said the death of the man allegedly happened "on or about" Oct. 19 in Helmand.
Probe announced earlier this week

The investigative arm of the Canadian Forces announced on Wednesday that it was probing possible inappropriate conduct stemming from the death of a presumed insurgent.
Canadian military officials were made aware of the allegations on Dec. 27, and notified the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service (CFNIS), which immediately began an investigation.
The probe was meant to investigate whether "proper reporting procedures were followed," said Col. Jamie Cade, acting commander of Task Force Afghanistan.
Charges were laid after analyzing evidence and interviewing witnesses, according to the Canadian Forces press release.
The CFNIS is an independent military police unit with a mandate to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to national defence, property, departmental employees and Canadian Forces personnel serving in Canada and abroad.
Canada has about 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, mostly based in the south around Kandahar. Neighbouring Helmand province is largely patrolled by British troops.
To say I'm astonished would be an understatement - I expected more from our senior leadership in theatre. I do not want to comment on something I have very little knowledge of, the process so far has left much to be speculated.

The incident happened quite some time ago, during a firefight in Helmand. This indicates a couple of potential things:

- The incident didn't actually occur the way the media is reporting, hence why it took so long for senior leadership to find out about it. (If it had been a serious incident, I'm sure they would have heard it through the grapevine sooner.)

- The article describes the man as a 'suspected insurgent' who was unarmed. As any of us know who have been in theatre, there are a number of situations in which just because someone is not armed does not mean they aren't hostile/dangerous. (Suicide bombers & persons planting IED's to name a few).

While I don't want to speculate on the specifics of a situation I have little/no knowledge of, as I said before, the process thus far has led to much speculation within the CF.

Due to the involvement of the National Investigation Service of the Military Police (NIS) - obviously this incident is being taken very seriously. However, I think it would have been prudent to have concluded the investigation prior to charging him rather than charging him first & investigating after. While I'm sure there are many pieces of information that are being kept private, on the surface it looks like the process could have been handled differently.