A former Australian soldier has returned to Adelaide after serving seven years in an Afghan jail for killing a colleague. The soldier, Robert Langdon, was given a presidential pardon earlier this week and reunited with his family on Tuesday night at Adelaide Airport.
The 44-year-old was initially sentenced to 40 years in prison for murder. However, it was reduced to 20 years after Langdon’s family paid his Afghan colleague for compensation.
In 2009, Robert Langdon worked as a private security contractor for the US military when he shot his colleague en route to the American base. His colleague pulled a gun on him during a dispute so he opened fire to defend himself.
His Adelaide-based lawyer Stephen Kenny said that some of his fellow prisoners were members of Al Qaeda and the Taliban and were aware that Langdon used to work with the US government. Apparently, the former soldier received a number of threats and was even attacked while serving time in the infamous Pul-e-Charkhi jail.
However, when Kenny visited his client, he found out many inconsistencies in the case. Among them was a statement from a Nepalese security contractor.
“For example, one of the judges had commented that they were relying on a statement from a Nepalese security contractor but when you read that witness’s statement, he said he was asleep in the back of someone’s car and never saw anything,” says Kenny. “The circumstances of the shooting were very difficult and dangerous and Robert has always maintained that he shot after a gun was pulled on him first.”
Expecting to spend 20 years in prison, Langdon was pardoned by the Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani. Kenny adds that his legal team and pressure from the Australian authorities made sure that he would be freed from his dangerous situation.
He was greeted by his parents, sister and niece at the airport. Landon and his family are relieved that he is finally out after enduring such terrible conditions.