Prosecutor says battlefield shooting wasn't chivalry -

Prosecutor says battlefield shooting wasn’t chivalry

Calls for prison term for Semrau, dismissal from army


A military prosecutor today argued that Capt. Robert Semrau, the Canadian soldier convicted last week of disgraceful conduct when he shot an unarmed, severely wounded Taliban fighter, should get two years in prison and be kicked out of the army. Semrau’s defence is that the incident was a form of battlefield mercy killing. But the prosecuting lawyer, Lt-Col Mario Léveillée, put an unsettling scenario before the judge at today’s sentencing hearing: what if Semrau had shot a dying Canadian, rather than a fatally wounded Afghan insurgent? “Would we say this is an act of chivalry?” said Léveillée. “We are not in the Middle Ages.” Semrau’s lawyer asked that his client’s rank be reduced and he be severely reprimanded.

Ottawa Citizen

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Prosecutor says battlefield shooting wasn’t chivalry

  1. "…if Semrau had shot a dying Canadian, rather than a fatally wounded Afghan insurgent? “Would we say this is an act of chivalry?” "

    A fair question.

  2. It's discouraging that this case is even debatable. Regardless of whether people support euthanasia or "mercy-killing", the law does not allow it. Are we going to uphold the rule of law, or let cases and sentencing be decided on the basis of whim?

    I sympathize with Semrau – he was in a tough situation. But he attempted to kill an unarmed man who was hors de combat for reasons unrelated to his mission. He should have been convicted of attempted murder, for that is exactly what this was.

    • Not attempted. He successfully killed the man. And again I say that he should have been convicted of murder, as that's what he did, but had the sentence suspended due to the status of the person. My view doesn't change regardless of the nationality of the unfortunate.

      What might change it, however, is more details about the nature of the victim's injury and chances of receiving life-saving medical aid.

      • I don't think it's been established beyond reasonable doubt that he killed the man. It's (remotely) possible that the victim died from his other injuries, and the body was never found. What's undisputed is that Semrau tried to kill the man, but for some reason he wasn't convicted of this.

        I disagree that the sentence should have been suspended – it's a very serious charge notwithstanding the circumstances. I think there's room for some leniency by virtue of the fog of war and the pace of battle, but that's about it. Whether the murder was attempted out of mercy or spite strikes me as something that affects how we view the perpetrator, but doesn't really affect the gravity of the crime.

        • We differ on that last — but I don't think it's a difference that will be resolved as its based on our personal belief systems.