A Royal Marine has been found guilty by a military court of murdering an injured Afghan insurgent, in what the prosecution called “an execution”.
It is the first time British forces have faced a murder charge in relation to the conflict in Afghanistan, said BBC defence correspondent Caroline Wyatt.
During the court martial, prosecutor David Perry told the court: “It was not a killing in the heat and exercise of any armed conflict. The prosecution case is that it amounted to an execution, a field execution.”
Marines B and C were accused by the prosecution of being “party to the killing” and of having “encouraged and assisted” Marine A to commit the murder.
Court releases audio of Afghan insurgent ‘shot dead’ by Royal Marine
The audio of the moment an injured Afghan insurgent was shot by a Royal Marine sergeant has been released by a military court.
Three marines, who can only be identified as A, B and C, have pleaded not guilty to murdering the unknown captured Afghan national on 15 September, 2011 contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.
The unknown man had been badly injured in a helicopter attack in Helmand Province. The marines had found him injured in a field, a military court in Bulford, Wiltshire heard.
In audio clips identified as video clip four and five in the trial, the marines are heard dragging the injured insurgent across the field. Marine C is heard saying “I’ll put one in his head, if you want.” Marine A replies: “That’ll be too fucking obvious.”
Marine C is the heard saying: “Maybe we should pump one in his heart.”
Marine A is alleged to have shot the Afghan national in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol before telling him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
He then allegedly turned to his comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
Marine B responds: “Yep, rog: If it ever comes to light, it’ll have been a warning shot.”
Marines B and C are accused of being “party to the killing” and “ encouraged and assisted” Marine A to commit the murder.
The incident was captured on the head camera of a helmet worn by Marine B. The video has not been released as the court believes it could prompt revenge attacks against British soldiers or civilians, but agreed to release the audio and a few stills from the footage. The images must not show the insurgent or him being shot.
Marine A said that he “genuinely believed” the insurgent was dead when he shot him and that he was “ashamed and embarrassed” of his actions. Marine B denied any involvement in the alleged murder and Marine C told the court he was moved off before the alleged offence occurred.
He said his diary entries were the “ramblings” of a “scared and angry man” which did not accurately reflect the events.
The prosecution at the court martial alleges the shooting was effectively an execution.
David Perry QC, prosecuting, told the court martial: “It was not a killing in the heat and exercise of any armed conflict. The prosecution case is that it amounted to an execution, a field execution.
“An execution of a man who was entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and entitled to be treated as any British serviceman or servicewoman would be entitled to be treated in a similar situation.”
The court martial board retired today to consider its verdict.
The journal of Marine C, accused
What follows is the journal extract of Marine C, who is 25 and one of three men accused of executing a gravely injured Afghan fighter in September 2011 in southern Afghanistan.
It has been shown to the jury, referred to in court and released to the media.
Summing up yesterday, Judge Jeff Blackett reminded the seven-man jury that C told the court these were “the ramblings of a scared and angry person coping with a stressful environment”. The brackets are mine:
“On the way back down to the CP (checkpoint), it came over the coy net (radio) that two more men they’d tracked were up at the compound…. just west of us, and were about to get smoked (killed) by the AH (Apache Helicopter).
We went firm (adopted defensive positions) to watch/wait to see if we were needed, and waited.
When the strike went in it was sound, AH let loose with 30mm and the geezer got smoked. As he’d been heading East at the time, across a field, we got tasked to carry out the BDA (battle damage assessment) – since we were only around 500m away.
So we headed on up there, and as soon as we crossed into the field he was in, behind compound, I pinged him (saw him). White dish dash, 80m North of the treeline we were moving up, in the middle of the field. F**ker was still moving! 138 30mm rounds hadn’t finished him off. I expected him to be in bits! So we drew level with him and went firm, then me and A moved out to him, covering eachother a bound at a time, as the others provided our protection.
He was down and hanging out but still moving, I said as much to A, as well as I had a headshot, but we cracked on up to him – I’d expected to boss (kill) him up there and then, but I followed A’s lead. We got to him, and he was in a very bad way. First we did the standard checks, A searched him, then jumped on him and rolled him over to check for any nasties (booby traps and weapons).
PGSS (observation balloon) had us in full view , as did AH so A was playing it straight.
We recovered an old hanging out AK (Kalashnikov rifle), with two mags (bullet magazines), as well as a HE (high explosive). Grenade – sneaky f**k. Next he started assessing his wounds, while I had my pistol drawn on his head in case he tried anything; any excuse to pop him I would, piece of sh*t I wanted to slot him bad but A said no due to the PGSS feed – goes direct live back to Bastion (main UK base), could wind me up on a murder charge.
As I said before he was f****d though, his brain just hadn’t caught up with his body – he was dead, but he just didn’t know it yet. The HE/incendiary rounds the AH use has fragged up his entire left side, head to toe, and he has two or three nasty ones up his back – honking sucking chest wounds you could have fit three fingers in – his lungs and sh*t hanging out. I felt no pity for hm though, f****r had just been shooting up our boys at Talander (marines’ base) and god knows what before that.
So once we’d searched him, a couple of lads came over to drag him out of the middle of the field, as we were mega exposed, and into the treeline everyone else was firm in.
This also ment (sic) we were out of the watchful eye of the PGSS balloon. Initially A had sent up (radioed) that this worthless piece of sh*t was alive, rightly or wrongly, but wasn’t keen to call a MERT (medical evacuation helicopter) out; he was nearly dead anyway, don’t think he’d of (sic) pulled through.
Now we were in cover, I was ready and waiting to pop (shoot) him with a 9mm (pistol), one in the heart should do it. I waited out for the nod from A, kept pressing the point, and although for a minute I thought we were actually going to treat and casivac him, A squared it and sent it up that he’d snuffed it while we treated him.
So there I was, pistol drawn, waiting for A to get off the net (radio) so I could pop this little w****r and be done with it; when A came back over, and thinned me out (told me to disperse), to take up arcs (covering positions) with the others.
As I walked off towards Steve and Nevs, A popped him one himself. I felt mugged off (angry), but job done: little f**k was dead at end of day.
We got some DNA off him, then headed back in. I was pretty threaders (unhappy); not because I hadn’t got to finish him off myself, as he was dead either way, and I’d have gained nothing from it, although I wanted to, maybe just for self satisfaction. I just felt a little mugged off. Still end result was a good one = 1 x dead Talib Sh*tbag, 1x AK , 2 x Mags and 1 x Grenade off the streets. Result.”