A former special forces soldier has been accused of murdering an Afghan civilian while serving in the country
A former Australian special forces soldier has been charged with a war crime for killing a civilian in Afghanistan. It is the first accusation to be filed since a military investigation, released in 2020, found that the country’s troops murdered 39 Afghans.
The 41-year-old suspect, identified by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation as former Special Air Service Regiment (SAS) trooper Oliver Schulz, was arrested on Monday in the state of New South Wales. “It will be alleged that he murdered an Afghan man while stationed in Afghanistan,” the Australian Federal Police said in a statement.
The case marks the first charge of the war crime of murder against a current or former soldier under Australian law, police said. In 2020, ABC broadcast video footage purporting to show Schulz shooting an Afghan man in a corn field in Uruzgan province in 2012. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Australian troops served in Afghanistan in support of a US-led war effort that dragged on for 20 years, starting in 2001. The government formed a special investigation office in 2021, after a military inquiry referred 19 current troops or former troops for possible prosecution after finding. evidence that they had murdered dozens of Afghan prisoners and civilians. In response, investigators tried to build cases against SAS troops and commando regiments who were deployed to Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.
“Some patrols are said to have taken the law into their own hands,” The head of the Australian Defense Force, General Angus Campbell, said in November 2020, when he published the results of the military investigation and issued an apology. “Rules were broken, stories made up, lies told, prisoners killed, and once the rule was broken, it became even more restrictive.”
The 2020 report, issued by the inspector general of the Australian Defense Force, Paul Brereton, after a four-year investigation, stated that some commanders required junior soldiers to shoot a prisoner to achieve a first kill, and that troops planted weapons on killed Afghan civilians.
Another 2012 incident in Uruzgan province came to light when former SAS medic Dusty Miller told Australian media in 2019 about an unarmed Afghan man being treated for a bullet wound through the leg. He said a former SAS soldier took the elderly man out of his care, and Miller later discovered the man had been executed. Wound marks suggested that his chest had been stomped before his death.
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