Canadian officer charged with murdering Afghan

Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:17pm EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - A Canadian army officer has been charged with shooting dead a wounded Afghan insurgent in October 2008, the military said on Friday. It is the first case of its kind since Canada sent troops to Afghanistan in 2002.

Captain Robert Semrau will face a court-martial on charges of second degree murder, attempting to commit murder, negligence and behaving in a disgraceful manner, the Canadian defense department said in a statement.

The department -- which did not give a date for the court martial -- said at an earlier hearing that the insurgent was unarmed.

News of the court martial comes amid growing unhappiness among Afghans at the number of civilians who are dying at the hands of U.S. and NATO-led troops, most of them in air strikes.

Canada has around 2,700 troops based in the southern city of Kandahar, an area where the former ruling Taliban is strong. So far 131 Canadian soldiers have died in Afghanistan.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)