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Marine appeals against conviction for murder of Afghan fighter
Lawyers for a Royal Marine appealing against his conviction for murder of an injured Afghan fighter claim the court martial decision is “inherently unsafe”.
Legal representatives for Sergeant Alexander Blackman yesterday questioned if his conviction by a simple majority by a seven-man panel met the criminal standard of proof.
But barristers acting on behalf of defence secretary Philip Hammond told three judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London that the marine’s appeal was “misconceived”.
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Lords will give their decision at a later date.
The judges have been urged to reduce his “manifestly excessive”
sentence of a minimum of ten years which was imposed in November if they decide the conviction will stand.
The 39-year-old was “dismissed with disgrace” from the Royal Marines after 15 years’ distinguished service.
Blackman, who is believed to come from Brighton, shot the Afghan insurgent, who had been seriously injured in a helicopter attack, in the chest at close range in the Helmand province in 2011.
The marine, who denied murder, said he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.
He has said he felt ashamed at his behaviour, describing it as a “stupid lack of self-control and lapse in judgment”.
His QC, Anthony Berry, argued that “by virtue of the possibility that he was convicted by a simple majority of a seven-man board there remains doubt as to whether the prosecution in fact satisfied the criminal standard of proof”.
He agreed with Lord Chief Justice Lord Thomas that the court martial who imposed the sentence “did not stand back far enough and realise the tremendous stresses that people are put under in a war involving insurgents”.
Blackman's wife Claire, 42, was present for the hearing but will not comment until after the court gives its decision.
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