Ex-Australian Soldier Charged with War Crime Over Afghan Killing

Following an investigation by Australia's Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and the Australian Federal Police, ex-Australian soldier Oliver Schulz, 41, was arrested in New South Whales on charges of war crimes over the killing of an Afghan civilian....

Ex-Australian Soldier Charged with War Crime Over Afghan Killing
Image credit: AFP [via Al Jazeera]

Facts

  • Following an investigation by Australia's Office of the Special Investigator (OSI) and the Australian Federal Police, ex-Australian soldier Oliver Schulz, 41, was arrested in New South Whales on charges of war crimes over the killing of an Afghan civilian.1
  • The OSI was established following the 2020 Brereton Report, which found 'credible evidence' that some of Australia's elite forces unlawfully killed 39 people while in Afghanistan — including 'prisoners, farmers or civilians' between 2009 and 2013.2
  • The report alleged 'blood lust' and 'competition killings' as being the norm and patrol commanders requiring junior soldiers to shoot prisoners to achieve their first kill, known as 'blooding.' Allegedly none of the 39 killings were in the heat of battle and the victims were either non-combatants or no longer combatants.3
  • The Australian Broadcasting Company says Schulz, who is the first Australian to be indicted on such charges, is the person referred to as Soldier C in a 2020 documentary. Footage allegedly shows him shooting an Afghan man in a wheat field in Uruzgan Province in 2012.4
  • As the OSI recommended all charges be brought before a civilian court and jury, Schulz has been remanded in custody and will appear in a Sydney court at a later date. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.2
  • Australia, which deployed 39K troops to Afghanistan, was part of a NATO-led international force that trained Afghan security forces and fought the Taliban for twenty years after the West ousted the Islamist militants in 2001.5

Sources: 1Guardian, 2Al Jazeera, 3CNN, 4BBC News and 5France 24.

Narratives

  • Establishment-critical narrative, as provided by The conversation. Just as the allied forces did to Japan after World War Two, war crime charges should not be limited to lower-level soldiers. Commanding officers, too, should be held accountable for their roles in these heinous acts, as they were likely aware of what these elite forces were doing and could very well have stepped in to stop it.
  • Pro-establishment narrative, as provided by Archive. As evidenced by this indictment, Australia's armed forces have cooperated with and allowed independent investigators to probe and even prosecute its soldiers for all crimes committed on Afghan soil. Besides criminal inquiries, Australia's military is also considering compensating the victims of these crimes as well as stripping the alleged perpetrators of their military honors. This horrific situation is being handled responsibly by current protocols.