Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

September 18, 2009 12:53 ET

Canadian Forces Officer to Face General Court Martial

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 18, 2009) - Captain Robert Semrau will face a General Court Martial in relation to the shooting death of a wounded insurgent that occurred in Afghanistan in October 2008.

Capt. Semrau was arrested on December 31, 2008, by the National Investigation Service and charged with Second Degree Murder while deployed in Afghanistan as Commander of an Operational Mentor Liaison Team. Capt. Semrau was released under conditions on January 7, 2009, by the Military Judge presiding over the custody review hearing at CFB Petawawa.

Following referral to the Canadian Forces Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP), Captain (Navy) Holly MacDougall, the original charge of Second Degree Murder, and three additional charges were brought forward or "preferred" to Court Martial.

The charges facing Capt. Semrau are:

- Second Degree Murder - contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 235(1) of the Criminal Code;

- Attempt to Commit Murder (alternative to the Charge of Second Degree Murder) - contrary to Section 130 of the National Defence Act, pursuant to Section 239(1)(a.1) of the Criminal Code;

- Behaving in a Disgraceful Manner - contrary to Section 93 of the National Defence Act; and

- Negligently Performing a Military Duty - contrary to Section 124 of the National Defence Act.

The charges have been forwarded to the Court Martial Administrator who will convene a General Court Martial at the first available date and at a location to be determined.

A General Court Martial is composed of a military judge and a panel of five members. The accused is represented by a defence counsel designated by the Director of Defence Counsel Service.

The DMP considers two main issues when deciding whether to prosecute a charge at court martial:

- Is the evidence sufficient to justify the continuation of charges as laid or the preferral of other charges?

- If the evidence is sufficient, does the public interest require a prosecution to be pursued?

DMP continually reassesses these issues as new information about the case becomes available and has the discretion to bring forward, or "prefer," the charge or any other charge based on facts disclosed by evidence in addition to, or in substitution for, the charge.

The DMP is a separate and independent authority for military prosecutions who exercises prosecutorial discretion within the military justice system, free of influences, and based on legal principles and criteria.

Further information:

Charge Laid Relating to Death of Presumed Insurgent

http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/view-news-afficher-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=2840

(News Release - 2 January 2009)

Custody hearing to take place for charged Canadian Forces member

http://www.forces.gc.ca/site/news-nouvelles/view-news-afficher-nouvelles-eng.asp?id=2841

(Media Advisory - 5 January 2009)

Custody hearing decision:

http://www.jmc-cmj.forces.gc.ca/dec/2009/doc/Semrau%20Decision-CRH-eng.pdf

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