Marine A is not a murderer, says wife

Royal Marine Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman
Image caption Sergeant Alexander Blackman was given a 10-year minimum life sentence

The wife of a Royal Marine convicted of murdering an Afghan national in 2011 has said her husband is not a murderer, but was acting under the extreme pressure of a conflict zone.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman's wife Claire told the Daily Telegraph that he was "terribly ashamed" of shooting the fighter in Helmand as he lay wounded.

The 39-year-old will serve at least 10 years in prison.

Mrs Blackman said her husband's sentence was too severe.

It comes after Blackman's commanding officer pledged his "full support", saying the marine had been "tainted" by war.

'Madness of moment'

"He's held his hands up. What he has not done in my eyes is commit murder. He genuinely thought, and I have absolutely no reason to disbelieve him, that that insurgent was already dead," she told the newspaper.

"He should not have discharged his weapon into him - it was the madness of the moment - and he... wished he hadn't either but he is not a murderer.

"He can't undo it and he's ashamed of it but I still don't think it should have led to where we are now."

Mrs Blackman, 42, said death on active service in a war zone like Afghanistan was "sadly, an everyday occurrence".

"I can't really imagine the horror or the pressure those lads were under," she said.

Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset received a 10-year minimum life sentence after he was found guilty at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, earlier this month.

An order banning the release of his name was lifted by High Court judges after he was found guilty.

Blackman, who was also "dismissed with disgrace" from the Royal Marines, said he was "devastated" and "very sorry" after he was sentenced.

Two other marines, known as B and C, were acquitted of murder.

Helmet camera

The Afghan was murdered after a patrol base in Helmand province came under attack from small-arms fire from two insurgents.

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

The incident was inadvertently filmed by Marine B on his helmet-mounted camera and that footage, taken on 15 September 2011, was shown to the court during the two-week trial.

It showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner with a 9mm pistol.

Mrs Blackman said that since being jailed her husband was "not feeling sorry for himself".

"He's making good use of his time, breaking all the rowing machine records that are there to be broken and spending lots of time in the library and studying for a degree," she said.

In response to an e-petition calling on ministers to order the quashing of Blackman's conviction and his release, the Ministry of Defence has said it would be inappropriate for the government to intervene in an independent judicial process.

The petition on the government website had attracted more than 44,000 signatures by 18:55 GMT on 14 December and will be considered for debate by MPs should it pass the 100,000 threshold.

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