Ex-Australian soldier charged with killing civilian in Afghanistan freed on bail

A former Australian soldier charged with war crime murder for an alleged killing of a civilian in Afghanistan has been granted bail on the grounds that the Taliban and extremist Islamic inmates might pose a danger to him.

Local media reported Tuesday, that Magistrate Jennifer Atkinson granted a release application to the man, who has been named as Oliver Schulz, 41. She reportedly agreed with the accused’s counsel that the risks posed to him while behind bars were too great.

“It’s possible to infer that there may be some people being held there who may take an adverse position in relation to what was said to be the accused’s behavior both as a member of the [Australian Defence Force] and also on the day the incident allegedly occurred,” she told Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court.

Schulz was arrested on March 20 and charged with a war crime murder over an alleged killing that took place while he was deployed in Afghanistan.

His lawyer Phillip Boulten applied for bail in Sydney’s Downing Center Local Court on Monday, arguing the former Special Air Service Regiment trooper faced serious risks to his personal safety in the prison system and had to be segregated from other inmates.

Boulten claimed that “wherever” Schulz is going to be held, “he is likely to have to mix with people in prison who sympathize with the Taliban” or other extremist groups.

Footage from a helmet camera first shown by ABC in March 2020 appears to show the soldier and his squad approaching a 25 or 26-year-old man in a wheat field in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan Province in 2012.

Schulz then seems to fire three shots at the man, believed to be Dad Mohammad.

Atkinson said in court that due to this allegation, Schulz would be in a “very difficult if not dangerous environment” and correctional facility staff could not be there to watch him 24 hours a day, Australia’s the New Daily reported.

“I am of the view that the position the accused finds himself in could be worse than other persons who are on remand given the particular security risks to his person,” she said.

Bail conditions imposed to ensure Schulz does not flee the country while on bail include a 10pm to 5am curfew. He also had to hand in his passport and was told to stay away from international points of departure. He has also been prohibited from contacting others within his military rotation from Afghanistan, and has to report to his local police station daily.

Additionally, a $200,000 surety will be handed over to the court guaranteeing he comply with these conditions.

The magistrate also granted a permanent suppression order over Schulz’s town and region where he normally lived, out of safety concerns for his family. “There are real security issues,” she said.This is the first time a serving or former ADF member has faced a war crime charge of murder under domestic law.