A ROYAL Marine convicted of murdering an injured insurgent in Afghanistan was publicly named for the first time yesterday as Sergeant Alexander Wayne Blackman.
His identity was disclosed following a ruling at the High Court by Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas, Mr Justice Tugendhat and Mr Justice Holroyde, which lifted an anonymity order preventing him being named.
He is a highly experienced Royal Marine who completed tours of Iraq, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland during his career, but faces a life sentence for murder when he is sentenced today.
Judges also announced that two acquitted servicemen should be named – but their identities will not be released pending a possible move by their lawyers to take the issue to the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court.
The question of the naming of two other Royal Marines, against whom charges were discontinued, will be the subject of a further hearing. Lawyers for the five challenged an order that lifted anonymity following the conviction of Sgt Blackman at a court martial.
Yesterday’s decision on identifying the servicemen follows a hearing last week, during which it was argued their lives would be at “real and immediate” risk if their names were released.
During the trial of three of the servicemen at a court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire, an order prevented the names being made public. Then, on 8 November, the court martial found 39-year-old Sgt Blackman guilty of murdering the man in Helmand more than two years ago, after the Afghan had been seriously injured in an attack by an Apache helicopter.
Blackman had 15 years’ experience in the Royal Marines, having joined in 1998, and was in charge of command post (CP) Omar, in Helmand.
An expert in heavy weapons, including machine guns, he was credited with building good relations with the local population and was friendly with a mullah who lived close to CP Omar. His role in Afghanistan also included taking part in shuras – meetings with community leaders and elders. Prior to a video of the murder coming to light, Blackman was being considered for promotion to colour sergeant.
He shot the insurgent in the chest but said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse. He said he felt ashamed at his actions, describing them as “a stupid lack of self-control and lapse in judgment”.
The murder – captured by a camera mounted on the helmet of another serviceman, known as Marine B – happened five months into a six-month tour.
As the insurgent lay on the floor convulsing and struggling for breath, Sgt Blackman told him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you c***. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
Of the identity ruling, an MoD spokesman said: “We presented our security concerns in open court, and an independent legal process has now concluded. We respect the decision of the court.”