Five Royal Marines launch appeal against being named after one is convicted of murdering Taliban insurgent in Afghanistan

  • Marine A, 39, executed a Taliban fighter after Apache helicopter attack
  • Marines B and C were acquitted while D and E had all charges dropped
  • Judge Advocate ruled that their names should now be made public
  • But the five men have launched a legal challenge to that decision

By Hugo Gye and Martin Robinson

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Five Royal Marines who were accused of killing an injured insurgent in Afghanistan have challenged a ruling that their names should be made public.

The order was made after one of the men was convicted of murder over the death of the enemy fighter, while two more were cleared and the other two had all charges against them dropped.

During the trial of three of the servicemen at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, an order was in place which prevented them being named.

Challenge: Five servicemen investigated over the death of an Afghan insurgent are fighting a ruling that their names should be made public

Challenge: Five servicemen investigated over the death of an Afghan insurgent are fighting a ruling that their names should be made public

Last Friday a court martial board found a commando, known only as Marine A, guilty of murdering the man in Helmand Province more than two years ago.

Two others, known as Marines B and C, were acquitted. Charges against a further two Marines, referred to as D and E, had previously been discontinued.

Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett made a ruling that the names of the three defendants and of Marines D and E should be identified publicly, but they have now lodged a challenge against that decision.

The move was confirmed by the Judicial Office today and a hearing before the Court Martial Appeal Court in London is expected to be held in the last week of November.

Sentence: Marine A, pictured, could face life in jail when he is sentenced on December 6

Sentence: Marine A, pictured, could face life in jail when he is sentenced on December 6

Judge Blackett, when ruling that the anonymity order should be lifted, said: 'The principle of open justice is immutable and must only be restricted where either the administration of justice would be seriously affected without the grant of an order for anonymity or there would be a real and immediate risk to the personnel were anonymity not granted.

'This is not a case relating to the administration of justice and I am not satisfied that those who seek a continuance of the anonymity order have demonstrated that the fear that the marines' lives will be at risk is objectively well-founded.'

Counsel for the marines said they wished to appeal and the judge said the anonymity order would remain in force pending further determination by the Court Martial Appeal Court.

Marine A, 39, could face life in prison when he is sentenced on December 6.

The head of the Armed Forces said this week that he should not be shown any clemency for his 'heinous crime'.

General Sir Nick Houghton said: 'Murder is murder, this is a heinous crime. No serviceman or woman is above the law.'

Marine A killed the insurgent near the end of a ‘tour from hell’, during which 23 servicemen from 3 Commando Brigade were killed and the Taliban hung the limbs of maimed British troops in trees as ‘trophies’.

Not punishing him would severely 'erode the moral ascendancy over our enemies', General Houghton said.

‘It would be quite wrong for the armed forces to adopt some special pleading, some sort of exemption.'

Lord Guthrie, a former Chief of the Defence Staff, agreed and said: ‘The military should observe the highest standards, and if some crime is committed, like everybody else they should pay the price. Murder is murder.’

Harrowing: Video from a Marine's helmet camera was shown at the court martial, which captured the moment Marine A murdered the Taliban soldier in this field

Harrowing: Video from a Marine's helmet camera was shown at the court martial, which captured the moment Marine A murdered the Taliban soldier in this field

Marine A was found guilty by a court martial of shooting the injured insurgent in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol, then taunting him: ‘Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***.’ 

He was convicted after a two-and-a-half week trial of slaying the insurgent on September 15, 2011.

His badly injured victim was found with an AK-47 assault rifle and grenade following an attack on a British base. Marine A denied murder, claiming he thought the insurgent was already dead.

He is the first serviceman to be convicted of murder on active service abroad since the Second World War.

Footage: The recording hears the group dragging the man's injured body with the marines apparently joking about refusing to give first aid

Footage: The recording hears the group dragging the man's injured body with the marines apparently joking about refusing to give first aid

His closest friends and family maintain that his killing was out of character.

A family friend told the Mail: ‘We know him and the shooting was not him, it wasn’t in character. He is keeping positive.’

Relatives of troops who died as they served alongside Marine A in 42 Commando criticised the military authorities for prosecuting him. One bereaved father said the decision was ‘inappropriate’. Others said the unique psychological pressures of war should be taken into account.

Retired Colonel Mike Dewar said it was important to ‘make exceptions for soldiers in extraordinary circumstances’. He added: ‘This is a completely different environment to a cold-blooded murder in normal circumstances.’

Some senior retired commanders, including Major General Julian Thompson, who led the elite commandos in the Falklands War, have called for leniency when Marine A is sentenced.

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Given how the Taliban would treat a British POW civilian or Forces one must ask why do we bother having such trials what do they achieve in the long run other than to chip away at Forces moral and gain kudos for belonging to a terrorist organisation?

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Whatever ones view on the punishment , if any, Marine A's should recieve following his actions how can any intelligent person believe releasing names will be helpful? Here in the UK we seem to so often, in the name of human rights, just get it so wrong. What about the human rights of his innocent family. The UK is a soft touch where those who don't deserve it are handed out compensation or multiple new identities at huge cost to us tax payers. So how is it then that we hear many stories of perpetrators being given, in the name of human rights, multiple chances, yet this Marine ( under horrific conditions) messes up once and is hung out to dry.

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No their names SHOULD NOT BE MADE PUBLIC. Why should they when the identities of Jamie Bulgers killers are kept secret. At least the insurgent deserved it.

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They should never, ever have come to trial.

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Free the Afghanistan One, Soldier 'A'

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Name them like anyone else.

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I hope you win!!! you have the public's backing, just the Gov' who wants to hang you out to dry!! Chin up

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I urge anyone involved to stop the court from naming any of the soldiers involved. They and their families will be at risk if they are identified. Do not further betray our Armed Forces by naming those involved.

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