Robert Semrau, sentenced to be booted from the Canadian Forces for the close-range shooting of a Taliban fighter after a battle had ended, will pay a heavy price for his actions.
The first Canadian soldier ever sentenced for a battlefield shooting will have to return any Canadian medals and decorations earned in his five years of service. According to one military law expert, 2nd Lieutenant Semrau will not be eligible for employment insurance.
And he doesn't get any severance pay.
But the officer can take solace in the fact that it could have been much worse. He has been given the lowest possible penalty for soldiers that the military has decided must be expelled from Her Majesty's service, a Forces spokesman noted Wednesday.
Retired colonel Michel Drapeau, who teaches military law, said 2Lt. Semrau will also be barred from relying on Forces benefits services that help soldiers transition to civilian life.
The sentence handed down by a military court Tuesday also reduced the 36-year-old army officer's rank by two levels to 2nd lieutenant from captain. This means he leaves the Forces with the lowest-possible officer-level rank.
The army officer has 30 days to appeal the court's ruling.
This July, 2Lt. Semrau was found guilty of shooting an unarmed and wounded Taliban insurgent in October of 2008. Testimony given during trial characterized the actions as a "mercy killing," but prosecutors failed to substantiate charges of second-degree murder, or attempted murder, against the soldier - in part because a body was never recovered from the war zone.
Commander Hubert Genest, a spokesman for the Forces, said dismissal from Her Majesty's service is the minimum penalty for a soldier that the military has decided must go. "When someone receives a dismissal, it means that this person has just crossed the line … [in terms of]who can no longer be salvaged in terms of discipline in the military."
The officer avoided any jail time for his infractions - or even a "dismissal with disgrace," which is a more severe form of expulsion from the Forces.
Mr. Drapeau said a major difference between normal dismissal and dismissal with disgrace is whether an ex-soldier can reapply to the Forces or work elsewhere in the federal government.
Under the regular dismissal that he received, 2Lt. Semrau could reapply to join the military if he chose - and would be accepted if the chief of the defence staff approved it.
Had he been expelled under the "dismissal with disgrace" rule, he would be forever barred from rejoining the Forces - and also prevented from working for the federal government. The rules say this heavier punishment prevents him from serving Her Majesty "in any military or civil capacity."
Mr. Drapeau said this means that 2Lt. Semrau is still eligible to work in the federal government, but the Department of National Defence said it could not confirm this interpretation of the rules.
The officer also has decorations from his period in the British army and the Forces couldn't say whether he would have to return them as well.