Royal Marines challenge naming ruling after Afghan case

Marine footage
Image caption Marine A faces a mandatory life term over the shooting

Five Royal Marines have lodged a challenge against a ruling they can be named, after one of them was convicted of the murder of an Afghan insurgent, the Judicial Office has said.

The sergeant, known as Marine A, was found guilty of shooting an unknown man in Helmand Province in 2011 last week.

An order which prevented the names of the five men being made public was in place during the trial.

A court martial appeal hearing is expected at the end of November.

Anonymity order

Marine A, who will be sentenced on 6 December, was convicted by a board of seven officers and non-commissioned officers and faces a mandatory life term over the shooting.

Marines B and C were accused by the prosecution of being "party to the killing" of the injured Afghan and of having "encouraged and assisted" Marine A to commit the murder but were both cleared at the trial.

Charges against the two other marines involved in the appeal, referred to as D and E, were dropped in February.

The challenge by all five men relates to a ruling by Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett that the anonymity order should be lifted at the end of the trial.

At the time, he 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 five 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 B had inadvertently filmed the murder, which happened on 15 September 2011, on his helmet-mounted camera and the footage was shown to the court during the two-week trial.

It showed Marine A shooting the Afghan prisoner with a 9mm pistol, and saying: "There, shuffle off this mortal coil... It's nothing you wouldn't do to us."

He adds: "Obviously this doesn't go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention," to which Marine B replies: "Yeah, roger mate."

During the court martial, prosecutor David Perry told the court the murder was "not a killing in the heat and exercise of any armed conflict... it amounted to an execution".

The murder took place after a patrol base in Helmand Province came under attack from small arms fire from two insurgents.

The Afghan prisoner was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter sent to provide air support, and the marines found him in a field.

The case was the first time British forces have faced a murder charge in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan.

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