Marines ‘murdered hurt Afghan’, court martial told

An Apache helicopter. A helicopter similar to this opened fire on the insurgents before the execution, a court martial heard. Picture: PA/MoD
An Apache helicopter. A helicopter similar to this opened fire on the insurgents before the execution, a court martial heard. Picture: PA/MoD
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A ROYAL Marine executed an injured Afghan insurgent then instructed colleagues not to tell anyone about the incident, a court martial heard.

The close-range execution was filmed by a helmet-mounted camera, the court martial in Bulford, Wiltshire was told.

Three marines, known only as Marines A, B and C, were arrested and later charged with murder after the footage was recovered by the Royal Military Police in September last year.

The marines were hidden from view of the public gallery although the judge, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, and the seven-strong court martial board could see the servicemen.

David Perry QC, prosecuting, explained the incident had taken place on the afternoon of September 15 2011 after a patrol base in Helmand Province had come under attack from two insurgents.

An Apache helicopter was sent to provide air support and soon spotted an insurgent in a field and opened fire, Mr Perry said.

The pilot and co-pilot did not believe anyone could have survived the cannon fire and so Marine A and his colleagues were told to check the field.

They discovered the Afghan seriously injured and in possession of an AK47 rifle, two magazines of ammunition and a hand grenade, with Marine A reporting that the man was still alive.

Mr Perry said Marine A told the others to move the man from the field to an area where they were less likely to be seen - “knowing full well” what they were about to do.

Mr Perry said Marine A was recorded shooting the Afghan in the chest at close range and after doing so, saying: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil you ****. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”

The prosecutor said that Marine A then said to the other marines: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”

Mr Perry said:“The prosecution case is that Marine A used a pistol deliberately shot and killed the unknown man.

“Although Marine A used his pistol - firing the gun at close range into the injured man’s chest - the case is that Marines B and C were all party to the killing.

Mr Perry added: “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.

A journal, which had been written by Marine C, gave an insight into what happened during the alleged murder, the court martial heard.

“Marine C gives an account that he was encouraging Marine A to shoot the injured man,” Mr Perry said.

“Marine C wanted to shoot him himself and one of the things he said to Marine A is ‘Shall I shoot him in the head?’”

Mr Perry said the Afghan man’s body had been left where he was shot and a memorial erected in his memory.

Later his body was removed by locals and therefore there was no post mortem examination.

Mr Perry said that after the shooting senior officers believed the Afghan had died as a result of cannon fire from the Apache - and nothing was said by the marines to correct that impression.

In interviews, Marine A said he had fired his pistol at the injured man but at the time “genuinely believed” he was dead.

In later interviews Marine C was shown the journal he had made of his time in Afghanistan and he said he did not shoot the Afghan.

“I didn’t shoot that man, I didn’t suggest it and I didn’t agree with it and I have played no part in and I have not murdered no one,” he said.

The marines are accused of murdering an unknown captured Afghan national on or around September 15 2011, contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006. The court martial was adjourned until today. The marines each deny the charge.