Marine convicted of Afghan murder can be named, a military court has ruled

A judge has ruled that a Royal Marine Commando convicted of murdering an Afghan insurgent two years ago should be named.

The soldier, currently known as marine A, was found guilty of the charge following a two-week trial at the military court centre in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Following the guilty verdict Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: “If any of the defendants are convicted of murder, they will be identified by name, rank and unit.”

He continued: “At the end of the trial the order for anonymity in relation to any acquitted defendant is also rescinded.”

Two others, known only as Marines B and C have been acquitted of murder by the seven-strong board.

Marine A has been remanded in custody until 6 December when he will learn the minimum sentence he will be expected to serve.

At this stage, his name and the names of those acquitted will be released.

Following the conviction, one of Britain’s highest ranking Royal Marines described the execution of a prisoner of war as “truly shocking and appalling.”

 

Brigadier Bill Dunham, Deputy Commandant General Royal Marines, (above) spoke out after a commando was convicted of murdering the seriously wounded prisoner in Helmand Province two years ago.

Dunham said: "It is a matter of profound regret in this isolated incident that one marine failed to apply his training and discharge his responsibilities.

"What we have heard over the last two weeks is not consistent with the ethos, values and standards of the Royal Marines.

"It was a truly shocking and appalling aberration. It should not have happened and it should never happen again."

During the trial, the court martial heard the marines were on patrol in a "kinetic" area of Afghanistan on 15 September 2011 when they discovered the insurgent lying seriously injured in a field.

Marine A directed his comrades to move the man, an Afghan national, into a wooded area before shooting him at close range in the centre of his chest.

As the man convulsed on the ground, Marine A told him: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."

He then turned to comrades and said: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention."

Superiors were informed the man had died from wounds sustained in the Apache helicopter attack, in which 139 anti-tank rounds were fired at the man.

But a year later, footage of the murder – taken from a camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B – was discovered on a laptop by police investigating unrelated areas.

The harrowing video footage was played numerous times to the court martial board in Bulford, with audio recordings also released to the public.

Brigadier Dunham, who has served for 34 years, added: "It is now for the Royal Marines to consider any impact from this case on the training given to our people as we seek to uphold the very highest standards that we constantly strive to instill and perpetuate.

"The Royal Marines deservedly have a worldwide reputation as one of the elite fighting forces.

"Our commandos go through one of the toughest training programmes to deploy to some of the harshest environments in the world.

"I am as proud of our reputation and achievements as I have been at any time during my 34 years of service and there is no clearer demonstration of the Royal Marines ethos than the success and sacrifices made in Afghanistan under the most demanding physical and mental conditions."

A board of officers and non-commissioned officers, four serving with the Royal Navy and three Royal Marines, spent around nine hours deliberating.

As the president of the board, a serving lieutenant colonel in the Royal Marines, delivered the verdicts, gasps could be heard from relatives sitting in the public gallery.

One blonde-haired woman burst into tears, while others move forward to console her.

Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett told Marine A he was legally bound to impose a life imprisonment.

"Marine A, this court has found you guilty of murder," Judge Blackett said.

"The mandatory sentence prescribed by law is imprisonment for life.

"This court now has to determine the minimum term you will serve before you are eligible for release."

He released Marines B and C from the court, telling them: "You are now free to return to your normal place of duties."

Marine B, when giving evidence during the trial, said he saw his future with the Royal Marines and hoped for a promotion.

Marine A – who will be sentenced on 6 December following the preparation of a psychiatric report – was remanded into custody.

In a statement, the Service Prosecuting Authority, which brought the case against the marines, said: "This was always going to be a complex trial which polarised opinions as to actions on the battlefield.

"With the conviction of Marine A, the Court Martial Board has sent an unambiguous message that there can be no excuse or justification for the unlawful actions described during this trial and that the consequence of such actions will be of the utmost seriousness."

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