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Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Still a few thugs in the system?

A U.S. fighter pilot who killed four Canadian soldiers when he mistakenly bombed them in Afghanistan was reprimanded and fined Tuesday, a move that relatives of the victims say brings some closure but little comfort.

Maj. Harry Schmidt, 38, was found guilty of dereliction of duty and will lose more than $5,000 US in pay, the air force said. Lt.-Gen. Bruce Carlson, who presided over Schmidt's hearing at Barksdale Air Force Base in northwestern Louisiana, said in a letter of reprimand Tuesday that the pilot "acted shamefully" in the bombing of April 17, 2002, and his "arrogance . . . undermined one of the most sophisticated weapons systems in the world."

"In your personal presentation before me on 1 July 2004, I was astounded that you portrayed yourself as a victim of the disciplinary process without expressing heartfelt remorse over the deaths and injuries you caused to the members of the Canadian Forces," Carlson wrote.

"In fact, you were obviously angry that the United States Air Force had dared to question your actions."