Court martial judge okays release of battlefield video
Capt. Robert Semrau arrives following a recess in the first day of general court martial proceedings in Gatineau, Quebec, on Wednesday March 24, 2010. (Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
OTTAWA - The judge in an unprecedented court martial has ruled that a battlefield video from Afghanistan can be made public.
Lt.-Col, Jean-Guy Perron says the cellphone video must be digitally altered to blur the faces of Afghan interpreters and remove the sound track.
He says these steps are necessary to protect the identity of Afghans working with allied forces.
The 10-minute video shows a severely wounded insurgent who is allegedly the victim of a battlefield execution by a Canadian officer.
Capt. Robert Semrau is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly firing two shots into the man from close range shortly after the video was taken in October 2008.
Media lawyers successfully argued for the release of the court martial exhibit over prosecution objections.
The judge gave the military 10 days to alter the video for release.
Semrau is a 36-year-old father of two from Petawawa, Ont., who served with the British army before joining the Canadian Forces.
Witnesses have testified that Semrau fired two shots into the wounded insurgent and said it was a mercy killing.
The man had been seriously wounded during a firefight with Afghan soldiers and it is not clear if he was still alive when Semrau fired.
The Afghans on the scene refused to provide medical treatment for the wounded man and were ready to abandon him on the ground.
The victim was never identified nor was the body recovered.