Free Alexander Blackman!

By July 7, 2014February 18th, 2021No Comments

FORMER Royal Marine Alexander Blackman, who was found guilty last year of murdering an injured insurgent in Afghanistan and jailed for life with a minimum term of ten years, has lodged an appeal application in a bid to challenge his conviction, the Judicial Office confirmed today.

Blackman, who was a sergeant, was sentenced to life in prison and must serve a minimum term of ten years before he is eligible for parole.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman stood as the judge read his sentence to the court in Bulford, telling him he was a “disgrace” to the Royal Marines and had betrayed and endangered the lives of other British service personnel.

Through a statement read by Blackman’s solicitor, he said he was “truly sorry” for any damage he had caused to the Royal Marines and thanked the public for their support.

Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: “You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your Corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation. In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks.

“Your actions have put at risk the lives of other British service personnel. You have provided ammunition to the terrorists whose propaganda portrays the British presence in Afghanistan as part of a war on Islam in which civilians are arbitrarily killed.

“As I have said already, committing this sort of act could well provoke the enemy to act more brutally towards British troops in retribution or reprisal.

“It is also very important this court sends out a very strong message that while this sort of offence is extremely rare, if not unique, those service personnel who commit crimes of murder, or other war crimes or crimes against humanity while on operations will be dealt with severely.

“This is a message of deterrence, but it is also to reassure the international community that allegations of serious crime will be dealt with transparently and appropriately. In our view this message is delivered by sentencing you to imprisonment for life.”

The Royal Marines Lieutenant Colonel, who was the president of the board, reduced Blackman to the ranks, dismissed him from the Royal Marines in disgrace and ordered he march out where he was returned to custody.

Issy Hogg, Sgt Blackman’s solicitor said: “He is devastated by the sentence and for being dismissed with disgrace from the Royal Marines which he has served so loyally for the past 15 years. He is very sorry for any damage he has done to the Royal Marines and he wishes to thank the public for their support.”

Judge Blackett said Blackman’s defence that he believed the man was dead when he shot him “lacked credibility” and that it had been, “clearly made up after you had been charged with the murder in an effort to concoct a defence”.

He added: “Although the insurgent may have died from his wounds sustained in the engagement from the apache, you gave him no chance of survival. You intended to kill him and that shot certainly hastened his death.”

He then referred to Blackman’s “matter of fact” attitude and “calmness” after he had shot the man as “chilling”.

“The Afghan man, as an injured enemy combatant, was entitled to be treated with dignity, respect and humanity,” Judge Blackett added. He then referred to the many commentators in the press who had called for leniency and argued Blackman should not have been prosecuted.

He added: “Those commentators are very wrong: if the British Armed Forces are not assiduous in complying with laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law they would become no better than the insurgents and terrorists they are fighting. Hearts and minds will not be won if British service personnel act with brutality and savagery.”

Blackman was also heavily criticised for the way in which he and his men handled the casualty and for the way he asked his marines to help cover up the incident.

Judge Blackett said: “He was handled in a robust manner by those under your command, clearly causing him additional pain, and you did nothing to stop them treating him that way. When out of view of the PGSS (surveillance balloon) you failed to ensure he was given appropriate medical treatment quickly and then ordered those giving some first aid to stop.”

He said the board had taken into account mitigating factors, which outweighed the aggravating factors, including provocation from the enemy during the tour, the stress of operations, the fact he had served on six operational tours in 14 years and the death of his father.

The term was reduced from a starting point of 15 years, rejecting the prosecution argument for a 30 year starting point.

The commando had been found guilty of the murder of the unknown man after a two-week hearing last month having denied the charge.

The board, who assisted the judge in considering the sentence of the former Plymouth Royal Marine, had been urged by the defence to be “very lenient”.

Sgt Blackman will serve the mandatory life sentence in civilian prison – among common criminals – for murdering the insurgent in Afghanistan in 2011 while he was serving with Bickleigh-based 42 Commando.

The 39-year-old, wearing his Royal Marines green lovat uniform, appeared publicly in court for the first time yesterday.

During mitigation Mr Berry spoke of the paranoia, extraordinary danger and grief Blackman had faced during his six-months in Helmand province.

He told the court the marines under Blackman’s command had been operating in “extremely uninviting territory” in the “most dangerous square mile of Afghanistan”.

The board were given evidence from a psychiatric report which said the decorated Sergeant was a very “quiet and private” person.

Mr Berry said the psychiatrist concluded it was likely Blackman was “frustrated” with poor equipment and the failure of assets sent to support his marines, he said: “It is likely to make him more vulnerable to feelings of frustration to things that happened beyond his control perhaps the poor equipment or the failure of the Apache that fired 139 30mm rounds but failed to kill the insurgent.”

Mr Berry told Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett that it was just prior to his deployment that Blackman lost his father, which upset him considerably. The marine returned to the UK in July to scatter his father’s ashes before returning to the frontline, Mr Berry said he was “very upset by this particularly”.

The barrister referred back to the psychiatric report adding that, “after so many patrols and having been shot at so many times he [Blackman] had begun to feel that, despite the rotation of leaders of the patrol, it was always him being shot at, there was this increasing element of paranoia. The erosive factors combined with fatigue, poor sleep, the grief which resulted from the death of his father all lead to the feeling of increasing paranoia that he was there to be shot at.”

He said that during the tour, the marines had become “lures” to the Taliban fanatics and that Sgt Blackman had the “immense” responsibility for the welfare and morale of his 15 young marines.

As part of the mitigation, Blackman’s exemplary 15 years of service was highlighted. A report from August last year carried out days before he was arrested for the murder, said Sgt Blackman was a “strong team player” with “heaps of potential”. A second report this year, praised his “tremendous professional knowledge and experience”.

He was hailed “talented and capable” and a “devoted family man” by his commanding officer at Commando Training Centre Royal Marines, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Chapman.

Blackman had spent the past 14 months training younger marines to be Heavy Weapons Specialists. Mr Berry said he had put “every ounce of effort” into training others.

Lt Col Chapman said in his letter to the court the Sergeant would have been promoted to Colour Sergeant and then envisaged he would have swiftly become a Warrant Officer had this incident not have happened.

He said: “I cannot overlook what has occurred, nor can I condone what Sgt Blackman has done, but he has my full support and he will continue to do so as he makes this difficult transition from military to prison life.”

Praising the dedication of Blackman, Lt Col Chapman said: “The last year or so had been extraordinarily difficult for Sgt Blackman yet, with the love and support of his family, he has faced incomprehensible pressures with great fortitude and dignity. Not once in 14 months has he asked for anyone’s sympathy or requested special treatment. Nor has he sought to excuse his actions on that day in Afghanistan.

“He has continued to serve loyally and obediently, treating every day as an opportunity to better himself and give something back to the Corps that he has served so well.”

Lt Col Chapman said Blackman’s career was now over. He added: “For a period of his life to come he must contend with the loss of his freedom and opportunities to spend cherished moments with his family and friends. This, and the loss of the comradeship of his fellow marines are the most significant punishments for him to bear.”

Summing up, Mr Berry said: “This is an extraordinary case, there is no other case like it.”

During the trial the court heard how Blackman had shot the severely wounded insurgent at close range in the chest with a 9mm pistol.

As he did so he said “There you go, shuffle off this mortal coil, you ****. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

After, he turned to his men and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

A camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B, worn against orders, recorded the shooting and was the main evidence used against the marines.

It is the first time since World War Two that a British serviceman has been prosecuted for the murder of an enemy in war.

He had been in command of a team of nine marines from Juliet Company when the incident happened on September 15, 2011.

A further two marines, B and C, were acquitted of the charge.

The judge told Blackman, who stood to attention to hear the sentence, that he had disgraced the name of the British armed services and had put troops’ lives at risk by his actions.

“This was not an action taken in the heat of battle or immediately after you had been engaged in a firefight,” the judge said.

“Nor were you under any immediate threat – the video footage shows that you were in complete control of yourself, standing around for several minutes and not apparently worried that you might be at risk of attack by other insurgents.

“You treated that Afghan man with contempt and murdered him in cold blood. By doing so you have betrayed your corps and all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan, and you have tarnished their reputation.

“In one moment you undermined much of the good work done day in day out by British forces and potentially increased the risk of revenge attacks against your fellow service personnel.

“You have failed to demonstrate the self-discipline and restraint that is required of service personnel on operations, and which sets British troops apart from the enemy they fight.”

The judge said: “Of course sitting in a courtroom in middle England is a far cry from the brutality of the conflict in Afghanistan, but you have been judged here by the board made up of service personnel who understand operational service because they too have experienced it.

“Many people have expressed views on your sentence in the media demanding a severe punishment on one hand and leniency on the other.

“However, you are not being tried by the media or by those who express themselves vociferously.

“This offence is unique and unprecedented in recent history. You were in a tough operational environment where you were legally entitled to use lethal force against the enemy.

“Whilst carrying out your duty, you came across a very seriously wounded enemy combatant. You were obliged to care for him but instead you executed him.

“That is a wholly different matter from the cases of murder in the UK normally considered by the civilian courts but we are still required by law to apply the same law which those courts are required to apply.

“The victim was particularly vulnerable because he was seriously wounded and lying helpless and in obvious pain while you considered what to do with him.

“Your actions have put at risk the lives of other British service personnel. You have provided ammunition to the terrorists whose propaganda portrays the British presence in Afghanistan as part of a war on Islam in which civilians are arbitrarily killed.

“That ammunition will no doubt be used in their programme of radicalisation. That could seriously undermine the reputation of British forces and ultimately the mission in Afghanistan.

“As I have already said, committing this sort of act could well provoke the enemy to act more brutally towards British troops in retribution or reprisal.

“You were in charge of the patrol and it was incumbent upon you to set the standards. Long before you shot the insurgent you should as a senior non-commissioned officer have shown better leadership to young and less experienced men.

“In fact you abused your position of trust by involving the other junior and subordinate members of your patrol in covering up what you had done and lying on your behalf.”

Speaking through his solicitor Issy Hogg, Blackman said he was “devastated” by the sentence.

The statement read: “Sgt Blackman and his wife are devastated by the life sentence imposed upon him together with the order than he serve a minimum of 10 years before he is eligible for parole.

“Furthermore, he has been dismissed, with disgrace, from the Royal Marines, with whom he has served proudly for 15 years.

“He is very sorry for any damage caused to the Royal Marines.

“Finally, Sgt Blackman thanks the public for the support shown to him and his wife.”


dr_who | January 08 2014, 10:05PM
Sergeant Blackman has been imprisoned for killing a combatant. This country really is a sick joke. The Taliban must be laughing their socks off. We really are a laughing stock. His reward for not being killed in Afghanistan is to be imprisoned by his own. I’ve just bought one of those wristbands in support of him, it’s available on Ebay, item number 201017007321. We should all get behind and show him our support, get one of those armbands and get a campaign going.

wazte_of_mone | January 07 2014, 8:15PM
The length of sentence is not right. Murderers get less for killing genuinely innocent victims. That insurgent was far from innocent. My personal opinion is the whole lot should have been well and truly swept under the carpet – as I said previously! And I bet you there are some senior Royal Marine Officers who think the same. Obviously his service career is over, but as a human being, I would trust him without question, every day of the week and twice on Sundays. Cut his sentence and let him be in peace so he can rebuild his destroyed life.

Foldart | January 07 2014, 5:10PM
@wazte_of_mone – You’re right. Sgt Blackman shamed the Marines, his family and himself. he got what he deserved. I hope the decision stands and he’s finished as a serviceman and as a trustworthy human being.

wazte_of_mone | January 07 2014, 12:45AM
Welsh_exile hit the nail on the head. Sgt. Blackman effectively shot himself in the foot with the coverage recovered from wearing that unauthorised head cam. The Courts Martial had no option but return a guilty verdict. But, personally, I say cut the sentence due to the extreme pressure Sgt. Blackman was under. For a MAN of that calibre, dismissal from the Royal Marines (undoubtedly paramount to his life for a long time) with his papers clipped and a token custodial sentence would be adequate. He is hardly likely to commit such a crime out here in easy street. It is such a shame that there was that footage, and even more so it ever came to light. There are times when things really should be swept well under a big, thick carpet.

cashlift | January 06 2014, 9:19PM
this guy is a hero, not a murderer, if the boot was on the other foot, he would have been killed and hung on a tree, release him now.

daz449 | January 06 2014, 8:38PM
I’ll tell you what, Sylvia Barber, aka foldart: you go to Afghanistan for 6 to 9 months, away from your family, wife and kids and spend that whole time being shot at or watching close friends die in front of you! I’d love to see what state of mind you would be in after all that going on. Its easy for you to sit on your comfy sofa typing away saying the sentence is correct and shouldn’t be changed, but you have no idea what he has seen or been through and what state of mind he was in at the time. Regardless of whether it was right or wrong, we have no idea of the facts of the case, only those who were there at the time know. Was the insurgent still armed at the time? Even though he was wounded, was he able to lift a weapon if he had one? Did he injure any of Sgt Blackman’s freinds beforehand? It’s facts that we don’t know and will never know: so before you sit there and say the sentence is correct and he deserves it, think about those facts I have stated and ask yourself truthfully what would you do in that position.

Plymouth Herald

Please visit and like the Facebook page that demands the immediate release of Al Blackman. The page already has almost 10,000 likes.

Al should serve no more prison time for his offence. If necessary, a pardon should be granted.