“Mercy killing” on the battlefield is still murder, Canadian court finds

Captain Robert SemrauA Canadian Army officer has been found guilty over the “mercy killing” of a wounded Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan. Captain Robert Semrau could face up to five years in jail for “disgraceful conduct”. However, the jury of fellow officers found him not guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder.

The incident occurred in 2008 in the Afghan province of Helmand. The prosecution alleged that Captain felt bound by a “soldier’s pact” to end the suffering of a gravely wounded man. “He told us that he shot the Taliban, he put him out of his misery and if anything came of it, he would wear it,” a corporal told the court. However, with no body, no autopsy, and conflicting witnesses, it was difficult for the prosecution to establish a case for murder. There is no defence for mercy killing in Canadian law.

In 2004 an American soldier tried to excuse a battlefield execution in Baghdad's Sadr City suburb as “mercy killing”. However, he was found guilty of unpremeditated murder and sentenced to three years in jail. ~ Globe and Mail, July 19

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