British Royal Marines “murdered Afghan man on live camera”

British soldiers in Afghanistan

A prisoner was brutally murdered in Afghanistan by a Royal Marines patrol after they had found him lying injured in a field, a court martial has heard.

Video footage of the alleged “battlefield execution” of the Taliban fighter in Helmand two years ago was recorded by the helmet camera of one of the suspected murderers and shown to the proceedings at a military hearing in Bulford, Wiltshire.

Leaning forward to fire a bullet into the chest of the young Afghan already covered in blood, the sergeant in charge of the group was heard to say: “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil you c**t, it’s nothing you wouldn’t have done to us.” Turning to other marines, he added: “Obviously this don’t go anywhere fellas, I’ve just broken the Geneva Convention.”

The victim was left shuddering and gasping for breath as the British soldiers, worried that they might have been seen, pretended to give him first aid. They then contacted their base, saying the man had died from injuries he had already endured in a helicopter strike.

Marines “A, B and C”

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There have been numerous high-profile prosecutions of British military personnel over killings of innocent civilians in Iraq but this is the first case of UK personnel charged with murder in Afghanistan.

The defendants, referred to as Marines A, B and C, pleaded not guilty from behind a blue screen protecting them from the view of the public. However, they could be seen by Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett and a military jury of seven.

The prosecution claims that it was Marine A, who had carried out the shooting. Marines B and C encouraged and helped him. They were arrested after the footage was discovered on the laptop of another soldier, who does not face any charges.

Police subsequently found a diary kept by Marine C where he claims he saw Marine A carry out the killing. His only regret, he wrote, was that he felt “mugged off” that he had not been able to “pop off the Taliban sh**bag” himself.

After his arrest, Marine C said he had written his diary when under stress and it did not reflect what really happened. He added: “I played no part in this, I did not murder anyone.”

Video footage

David Perry QC, prosecuting, said: “The video speaks for itself. It clearly shows they killed an injured man; it shows they lied about the circumstances in which the injured man met his death. 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 alleged murder occurred when an attack on a command post by the Taliban. An Apache helicopter-gunship carried out an intense strafing of the area. It was thought highly unlikely, said Mr Perry, that anyone would survive such an onslaught. However, a patrol led by Marine A found a badly injured man lying in a corn field.

Marine A asked Marine C to move the man to a “less exposed area”. He was worried, claimed the prosecution, of being spotted by the Apache that was still hovering near by, as well as a surveillance balloon.

In the video, Marine A is heard to say “Get him close in, so the PGSS [observation balloon] can’t see what we’re doing to him”. He later asks: “Where’s the Ugly? He’s over there, he can f****** see us”. The prisoner, who is barely conscious, is taken to a mound. The sergeant then asks: “Anyone want to do first aid on this idiot?” One voice says “no”.

Marine C then says: “I’ll put one in the head if you want”. Marine B offers: “Take your pick how you shoot him.” But Marine A cautions: “Not on his head, that’ll be too obvious” and undertakes the shooting himself and warns about the breach of the Geneva Convention. Marine B responds: “Yep, rog: If it ever comes to light, it’ll have been a warning shot.”

The three men then discuss whether to administer first aid to the prisoner, with Marine C saying: “Don’t do it, just pretend to do it”.

The case is still ongoing.

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