July 16, 2024

An ex-Australian SAS soldier accused of war crimes over the alleged killing of an Afghani farmer in 2012 could spend well over two years with his case languishing in lower courts.

Oliver Jordan Schulz, 43, is accused of shooting Dad Mohammad three times in a wheat field in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province while the 25-or 26-year-old man lay on his back.

Prosecutors told a local court hearing at Sydney’s Downing Centre on Tuesday they would file an application for witnesses to be called during the case’s committal stage.

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Committal proceedings are held before a local court magistrate, who decides whether there is enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial in a higher court.

A date was set for a five-day hearing to take place in April, by which time the matter will have been before local courts for two years following Schulz’s arrest in March 2023.

Schulz’s Perth-based lawyer, Karen Espiner, told the court via a video link she did not yet know the identities of the proposed witnesses but had been informed there would be up to 10 of them.

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Barrister Philip Strickland SC, representing commonwealth prosecutors, said the committal application would be filed as soon as possible given the “considerable period of time” the matter had been in the lower court.

“We are very concerned … it’s been in this court for a long time,” he said.

“Whatever is quickest is what we’ll do.”

Schulz was arrested in March 2023 following a complaint to the Australian Defence Force from the alleged victim’s father.

The ex-soldier was released on bail a week after his arrest when a magistrate found he faced a high risk of Taliban attack if he remained behind bars.

Schulz was the first former or serving Australian Defence Force member to be charged with a war crime-related murder.

A five-day committal hearing has been set for April.

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