British Royal Marine appeals murder conviction for killing injured Taliban fighter
A British Royal Marine jailed for life for murdering an injured Taliban insurgent while on operations in Afghanistan appealed against his conviction on Thursday.
Sergeant Alexander Blackman was ordered last November to serve a minimum term of 10 years for the fatal shooting in Helmand Province in 2011, after which time he will be eligible for parole.
His defence lawyer challenged his conviction by a seven-man court martial board in Bulford, Wiltshire and argued that the sentence was “manifestly excessive”.
“The appellant submits that the possibility that he was convicted by a simple majority renders his conviction inherently unsafe,” QC Anthony Berry told the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.
Philip Havers QC, making submissions on behalf of Defence Secretary Philip Hammond, said the challenge was “misconceived”.
Blackman, known during his court martial hearing as “Marine A”, shot the Afghan in the chest with a 9mm pistol after the insurgent was seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter.
As the Afghan died in front of him, Blackman told him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil… It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
Speaking to his fellow soldiers, one of whom filmed the incident on a camera mounted to his helmet, he then said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
The 39-year-old, who was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando and had spent 15 years in the Army, was “dismissed with disgrace” over the incident.
He denied murder, saying he believed the victim was already dead, but said he regretted his “stupid lack of self-control and lapse in judgement”.
Two more junior soldiers with him at the time were cleared during the court martial.
The hearing comes as British combat troops prepare to exit Afghanistan after more than 12 years of NATO-led operations.
Britain handed over command of Camp Bastion, its military headquarters in Afghanistan, to the US last week ahead of the withdrawal, to be completed by the end of this year.
Some 5,200 British troops remain in the country, most based at Camp Bastion, which is in Helmand Province.
The result of the case is expected to be announced at a later date.