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November 15, 2013updated 16 Nov 2013 3:51am

Marines seek lifelong anonymity order

By Press Association

Five Royal Marines have lodged a challenge against a ruling that they can be named following the conviction of one of them for the murder of an injured insurgent in Afghanistan.

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

On 8 November 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.

Their challenge relates to a ruling by Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett that the names of the defendants and those of Marines D and E, should be identified publicly.

The move by all five Royal Marines 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 week beginning Monday 25 November.

The three Royal Marines on trial denied murdering the unknown captured Afghan national on or about 15 September 2011, contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.

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But a seven-strong court martial board, consisting of officers and non-commissioned officers, convicted one of the defendants following a two-week trial.

Marine A shot the Afghan national in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before quoting a phrase from Shakespeare as the man convulsed and died in front of him.

''There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us,'' Marine A told the insurgent.

He then turned to comrades and said: ''Obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.''

The execution was filmed by a camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B.

Marines B and C were alleged to have been ''party to the killing'' and ''encouraged and assisted'' Marine A in committing the murder but they were cleared.

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.

 

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