An ex-soldier from Australia has been charged with a war crime for allegedly killing an Afghan civilian back in 2012.
According to a joint statement from the Australian Federal Police and the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI), the 41-year-old man was arrested in New South Wales and charged with murder. This is the first instance of a former or active Australian military member being charged with war crimes. The soldier has since been taken into custody and is expected to appear in court as early as this week.
The man charged with murder has not been named by the police. However, Oliver Schulz, a decorated former soldier with the special forces, was identified as the accused by the Australian public broadcaster ABC. In March 2020, he was shown in an investigation broadcast shooting an Afghan man lying on the ground. After the documentary was aired on television, Schulz was investigated by the military.
The establishment of the OSI came after the Brereton Report in 2020, which uncovered that a number of elite Australian soldiers had committed unlawful killings of 39 individuals during their deployment in Afghanistan. The report recommended that 19 current or former members of the special forces be investigated for their role in the killings of “prisoners, farmers or civilians” between 2009 and 2013. The investigation also found that some killings constituted “the war crime of murder.”
The report revealed that some incidents involved a single victim, while others involved multiple people. In some cases, weapons had been planted on the victims, and junior soldiers were sometimes forced to shoot prisoners as part of an initiation known as “blooding.” The OSI is investigating alleged war crimes committed by Australian soldiers between 2005 and 2016.