Little Fish in a Giant pond

Thursday, January 22, 2009

War and Justice

It has been a pretty busy news week, what with the inauguration(s) of President Obama in the US, and the upcoming budget vote in Ottawa, but there is another story that has captured my interest as of late. I am referring to the upcoming court marshall of Captain Robert Semrau of the Canadian Army.

Semrau is accused of Murder in the second degree for having allegedly killed an unarmed Afghan enemy combatant. Interestingly enough, nobody actually saw him kill the combatant. All we know (from the media reports I have read) is that the enemy fighter was severely wounded by an American air strike and that he had been disarmed in front of witnesses and that he was alone with the accused at the time that witnesses claim to have heard two shots. We don't actually know that the enemy fighter was killed, and his body was left behind and never recovered. Apparently, the Crown also has one witness that saw Semrau fire toward the alleged victim.


As in any criminal proceeding, Captain Semrau is entitled to his day in court, which includes a presumption of innocence that requires the Crown to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. First and foremost, they will have to prove what is known in law as the actus reus, in this case they have to prove that he killed the insurgent. This is difficult to do (though not impossible) without the body being recovered. Moreover, it doesn't sound like anyone actually saw the body of the insurgent, so there is little more than circumstantial evidence to say that Semrau killed him (though admittedly the circumstantial evidence is still strong). People have been convicted based on circumstantial evidence before, but the question in this case is whether or not the evidence leaves room for reasonable doubt.

Given that the alleged victim is said to have been too badly injured for treatment in the field, it is doubtful that he could have gotten up and walked away on his own, so the question then becomes whether or not he simply expired from the wounds he received from the air strike, or if he was killed by the shots Semrau is alleged to have fired. Since it is unlikely a shot could have missed from close range, I suspect the Defence may want to try casting doubt as to whether or not the shots were ever actually fired.

From a legal point of view, I am interested to see how this case turns out. Hopefully, we will hear more details about the case as it progresses. For all we know, the alleged shooting (if it happened at all) may not even have been done in anger. After all, who's to say that we are not talking about a mercy killing?

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7 Comments:

  • Fish, this war has reached atrocious level. There are too many cases of indiscriminate killing.

    I know an American gentleman who served in Vietnam. He tells me that Americans always treated Vietnamese worse than animals. He told me he was always deeply troubled by all that brutality. Occupying forces tend to do that. Many colonial powers behaved in this manner in their colonies including English, French, German and so on.

    If anyone is at fault here they are our leaders especially Harper to have our forces in a US war – now a futile war as it is getting us no where.

    By Blogger LeDaro, at 9:17 AM  

  • Ledaro my friend, we continue to disagree about this war.

    I'm not sure if you were referring to this particular case, but you should keep in mind that a verdict has yet to be rendered.

    You can compare NATO with the old colonial powers all you want, but you would do well to remember that neither the VC nor the Taliban are very well known for their kind treatment of captured enemies.

    I don't doubt that brutality has occurred on both sides in Afghanistan, but the difference between them and us is that when something like this happens, we investigate, and if sufficient evidence exhists, we prosecute.

    Had a wounded Canadian soldier been captured by insurgents, I don't doubt that he or she would have been subjected to treatment that makes waterboarding look like a kiss on the cheek. (Just so that this comment is not misinterpreted, waterboarding is a form of torture, and in my opinion, a war crime).

    By Blogger Fish, at 11:27 AM  

  • Fish, yes we disagree. This war was justified getting rid of Taliban and Al-Queda. Turns out it was for neither. It has to do with some natural gas pipeline through Afghanistan and strategic location of Afghanistan. If it were for Taliban and Al-Queda alone it would have been over in 2001 or 2002 the latest with proper force. The way war was conducted, as it was for totally different reasons than public was led to believe, it has strengthened Al-Queda and now Taliban too. It is a long story, my friend, lot of lies were told by our leaders. As far Taliban’s treatment of our prisoners is concerned you’re probably right. Afghanistan is composed of bunch of tribes and not organized society like ours and US. Finally we invaded them and they did not invade us. Most of the Al Queda members are from Saudi Arabia or other Arab countries.

    I did not say that Captain is guilty. It is the circumstance soldiers have to put up with. Many soldiers have come back as drug addicts and many more will.

    By Blogger LeDaro, at 12:30 PM  

  • Hey lawman, what is your opinion on terror-supporting Jews in the Supreme Court who deny US war resistors refuge in CacaNADA?

    What is the best way to free CaCaNADA from the terrorist-supporting Isr-el Lobby, which through their pressure got the Afghan mission(for Isr-el's security) extended?

    The proof is Dion's throwing out Lesley Hughes at the behest of The Lobby. Anyone who goes against their dictates, will not survive the shitstorm the Jewsmedia(not an antisemitic canard, a reality in CacaNADA) will unleash.

    Are legal means possible, when they have subverted and infiltrated all institutions?

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