Marine A, Sergeant Alexander Blackman loses murder appeal
By Plymouth Herald
22 May, 2014
A Royal Marine found guilty of murdering an injured Afghan ‘fighter’ [for ‘fighter’ read unlawful combatant and terrorist] has lost his battle to overturn his conviction.
The bid by Sergeant Alexander Blackman was rejected by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Sir Brian Leveson and Lady Justice Hallett at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London.
But the judges allowed a sentence appeal by Blackman, reducing his 10-year minimum term to eight years – the least he must serve before he can be considered for parole.
After being convicted last November at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, the 39-year-old was sentenced to life with the minimum term of 10 years.
He was also “dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines after he had served with distinction for 15 years, including tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.
As well as challenging his “unsafe” conviction at a recent appeal hearing, his defence argued that his sentence was “manifestly excessive”.
The killing happened in Helmand province in 2011 while Blackman, who is known as Al, was serving with Plymouth-based 42 Commando.
He shot the Afghan, who had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter, in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man convulsed and died in front of him.
Blackman 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, fellows. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
During the trial Blackman was known as Marine A, and his junior colleagues – who were both cleared – as Marines B and C.
They were later named as Corporal Christopher Watson and Marine Jack Hammond.
The shooting was captured on a camera mounted on the helmet of Cpl Watson.
Blackman, who denied murder, said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.
He has said he felt ashamed at his lack of self-control, describing it as a “stupid lack of self-control and lapse in judgment”.
During the appeal Blackman’s QC Anthony Berry said he was convicted by a seven-man court martial board, and in explaining a point of law raised in the challenge said: “The appellant submits that the possibility that he was convicted by a simple majority renders his conviction inherently unsafe.”
He argued that “by virtue of the possibility that he was convicted by a simple majority of a seven-man board there remains doubt as to whether the prosecution in fact satisfied the criminal standard of proof”.
But the appeal against conviction was dismissed by the three judges.
dr_who | Friday, 23 May, 2014, 2:37PM
I must say I am still appalled by this sentence and conviction for murder. Sergeant Blackman was being paid as a Royal Marine and fighting Taliban members wholly intent on killing him and his colleagues. Murder is defined as killing under the Queen’s Peace. As far as I can see, as a layman, being at “war” in Afghanistan with the Taliban is not under the Queen’s Peace, hence why Sergeant Blackman and his colleagues were armed.
The Geneva Convention obviously does not exist in Afghanistan, otherwise our soldiers dismembered body parts would not be found hanging from trees on display for all to see. If one side does not play by the rules then the rules are meaningless and worthless, and time to throw out the rules until such time as both sides agree to abide by them.
People commit far worse offences in this country and are let off by the CPS or are very leniently dealt with by the court system (see today’s story re David Travers and his 27th chance at reforming).
My full support to Alex Blackman for doing a job many armchair dwellers do not have the guts or inclination to follow. Free Alex Blackman.
The standards which supposedly apply to behaviour in civil society do not apply in the same way to behaviour within a combat zone. And I say ‘supposedly’ because even here in Britain we are seeing a decline in the norms of civilized behaviour, which should not surprise us since they were culturally determined by a social cohesion which was itself contingent upon a racially homogeneous society. The homogeneousness of a society in which the people, by and large, possessed and were conscious of sharing with one another a common racial heritage.
Without condoning Sergeant Blackman’s action one should understand it in all the circumstances. Al Blackman should now receive a pardon for his deeply regrettable but, from a human point of view, entirely understandable offence against military discipline.
Free Alexander Blackman!