Marines cleared of Afghan murder named as order lifted

Still from video footage of incident taken by helmet camera
Image caption Footage of the incident was captured on a helmet camera worn by one of the marines

Two Royal Marines who were acquitted of the murder of an injured insurgent in Afghanistan have been publicly named for the first time.

Corporal Christopher Watson and Marine Jack Hammond, members of Plymouth-based 42 Commando, were both found not guilty at a court martial last month.

An order banning publication of their names has now been lifted.

Sergeant Alexander Blackman was convicted and given a life sentence, with a minimum term of 10 years.

Advocate General Jeff Blackett, the judge at the court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, ruled that the names of the defendants should be made public at the end of the proceedings.

Their lawyers challenged the decision but three judges at London's Court Martial Appeal Court lifted the anonymity order after rejecting the assertion that the marines' lives would be at "real and immediate" risk.

'Revenge fears raised'

The judges ruled the risks under the European Convention on Human Rights to respect for private and family life were not "sufficient to outweigh the importance of open justice".

The court also said: "If the names of the accused are not known, attempts at revenge may be directed to others present at the same time as those whose names have been published."

Blackman was named on 5 December but the order for the two other marine remained in place until the court published its full judgement and their lawyers decided whether to appeal.

The murder took place in September 2011 after a patrol base in Helmand Province came under attack from small arms fire from two insurgents.

Camera on helmet

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

Blackman was filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of one of the other marines shooting the victim at close range with a 9mm pistol.

All three marines had pleaded not guilty. Blackman was referred to during the court martial proceedings as marine A. Corporal Watson and Marine Hammond were referred to as marine B and marine C respectively.

The question of whether two other Royal Marines, referred to as marines D and E and against whom charges were discontinued, can be named will be the subject of a further hearing.

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