UK

Murder appeal ex-marine Alexander Blackman refused bail

Alexander Blackman Image copyright PA
Image caption Sergeant Alexander Blackman was convicted of murder at a court martial in 2013

Ex-Royal Marine Alexander Blackman, who is serving life for the murder of an Afghan fighter, has been refused bail ahead of an appeal.

He was sentenced to life by a court martial in 2013 and had an appeal dismissed in 2014.

But the case of the 42-year-old from Taunton is due to be heard by the Court Martial Appeal Court for a second time next year.

On Wednesday, his request to be bailed until the hearing was refused.

Blackman, known as Marine A, watched the court proceedings in London via video link from jail.

'Disappointed'

Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, sitting with Mr Justice Sweeney, said in his ruling: "The practice of the court is always to expedite appeals, rather than release on bail."

"[But] despite the unprecedented nature of this case, [the court] can see no basis for departing from what is that practice."

His wife, Claire, was in the courtroom along with a number of his supporters.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Claire Blackman said her husband's family and supporters were disappointed by the ruling

Speaking outside the court after the ruling, Mrs Blackman said: "We are obviously disappointed by the judges' decision not to grant bail this afternoon.

"However we must remember that earlier this month the Criminal Cases Review Commission decided to refer the case back to the Appeal Courts and this is the most important step towards getting Al's conviction and sentence overturned.

"We are grateful to the courts for expediting the appeal process."

In a BBC interview earlier this month, Mrs Blackman said she hoped her husband would be home for Christmas, saying it would be "the icing on the cake".

Shot at close range

The killing, on 15 September 2011, took place after a patrol base in Helmand province came under fire from two insurgents.

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

Footage from a helmet-mounted camera of another marine in his unit showed Blackman shooting the Taliban prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.

Blackman was convicted of murder in November 2013 and jailed for life. He lost an appeal in May of the following year, but his 10-year minimum term was reduced to eight years.

On 6 December this year, he secured a second appeal after the presentation of new evidence relating to his mental health at the time of the murder.

The trial was the first time a member of the British armed forces had faced a murder charge in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan, which began in 2001.

BBC News correspondent Daniel Boettcher, who was at the two-hour hearing, said: "What today was about was simply this decision as to whether he should be granted bail ahead of that fresh appeal hearing and the two judges have decided that he should not."

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