Home>News Center>World

US pilot fined for killing Canadian soldiers
Updated: 2004-07-07 08:35

A U.S. Air Force pilot drew a sharp reprimand and a fine on Tuesday, but no confinement for mistakenly killing four Canadian soldiers in a 2002 bombing raid in southern Afghanistan.

Following a hearing last week, F-16 fighter pilot Maj. Harry Schmidt was found guilty of dereliction of duty and ordered to forfeit $5,672 in pay, the Air Force said.

"You acted shamefully on April 17, 2002 over Tarnak Farms, Afghanistan, exhibiting arrogance and a lack of flight discipline," Lt. Gen. Bruce Carlson, 8th Air Force Commander at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana, said in a written reprimand.

"The victims of your callous misbehavior were from one of our staunch allies in Operation Enduring Freedom and were your comrades-in-arms."

Schmidt, 38, could have been confined to quarters for up to 30 days or limited in his movements for up to 60 days for the offense.

His lawyer, Charles Gittins, said in an e-mail Schmidt was "contemplating" an appeal of Carlson's findings.

"We ... are shocked by the fact that General Carlson found Harry guilty of an offense of which he was never charged: the unpremeditated murder of the four Canadians," he said.

He blamed poor leadership for the deaths and said the Air Force, by punishing Schmidt, had "protected the criminal negligence of its general officer corps."

Schmidt said in a hearing last year that he dropped a 500-pound (225 kilo) bomb on the Canadians because he thought their night-time anti-tank maneuver was enemy fire. No one had informed him that military practice sessions would be held that night, he said.

Despite instructions to hold fire, Schmidt told air controllers and flight leader Maj. William Umbach, flying in a separate F-16, he was "rolling in, in self defense" and dropped the bomb.

Four Canadians in Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry unit died and eight were wounded in the incident that strained U.S.-Canadian relations.

"You used the inherent right of self-defense to wage your own war," Carlson charged in the reprimand.

Schmidt and Umbach apologized last year but blamed the "fog of war" and the Air Force's practice of giving pilots amphetamines to stay alert.

Schmidt's punishment came after a nonjudicial hearing before Carlson on July 1. He had previously insisted on a full-blown military trial, but dropped the demand in June.

Originally, he was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault, but the charges were reduced to dereliction of duty.

Umbach accepted in June 2003 a letter of reprimand and was allowed to retire.

Schmidt has until July 12 to appeal Carlson's decision, an Air Force spokeswoman said.

He is a pilot in the Illinois Air National Guard, but has agreed to accept a nonflying position and will no longer be permitted to fly Air Force aircraft, she said.

  Today's Top News     Top World News

Taxes, fees no longer to target farmers



Edwards joins Kerry's bid to unseat Bush



Bird flu case found after 4-month gap



US slaps extra duties on shrimp from China



China regrets Koizumi's defiant words



Rice to visit Beijing this week


  Three US marines die in central Iraq: military
  Kerry announces Edwards as running mate
  Musharraf sees iron curtain between West, Muslims
  Report: 15 killed by US jets in Iraq
  Allawi: No need for troops from Iraq's neighbors
  Saddam defense lawyers preparing convoy to Baghdad
  Go to Another Section  
  Story Tools  
  Related Stories  
Edwards joins Kerry's bid to unseat Bush
Iraq group says US marine hostage moved to 'safety'
  News Talk  
  Will Saddam Hussein get a fair trial?