Australian Special Air Service veteran Oliver Schulz allegedly accused of murdering an Afghan man will face a trial in a civil court, which could set a precedent for the UK, Canada, and New Zealand.
Former Special Air Service (SAS) soldier Oliver Schulz became the first decorated Australian veteran to be charged with war crimes in Afghanistan.
Arrested in regional New South Wales, the 41-year-old was charged on Monday with one count of War Crime as per the Murder under the Commonwealth Criminal Code.
After conducting a joint investigation with the Office of the Special Investigator (OSI), the Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed the charge, and in a joint statement noted that Schulz “has been remanded in custody and is expected to appear in Downing Centre Local Court at a later date,” adding that “it will be alleged he murdered an Afghan man while deployed to Afghanistan with the Australian Defence Force.”
According to the statement, Schulz could be faced with a maximum penalty, given that the offence carries a lifetime sentence.
Moreover, the statement confirmed that “the OSI and AFP are working together to investigate allegations of criminal offences under Australian law related to breaches of the Laws of Armed Conflict by Australian Defence Force personnel in Afghanistan between 2005 and 2016.”
The decision by Australian authorities to hold war crime trials in civilian courts, according to international law expert Tim McCormack, is “unprecedented”.
McCormack suspected that “this will be an important precedent for the British, for the Canadians, for the New Zealanders and, hopefully, for other state parties [to the ICC].”
The decorated veteran was abandoned by the ADF after a Four Corners – ABC Investigation revealed the crime he had committed during one of his many Afghanistan tours.