Royal Marine jailed for murdering Taliban fighter has conviction reduced to manslaughter. - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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#14791316
A Royal Marine jailed for killing a wounded Taliban fighter in Afghanistan is to be freed within weeks.
Sgt Alexander Blackman received a life sentence in 2013, but his murder conviction was reduced to manslaughter after a high-profile campaign.
The 42-year-old has been sentenced now to seven years for the lesser charge, but because of time already served, he will shortly be released.
The 2011 shooting took place after a British patrol base came under fire.
Blackman was convicted of manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility, and his supporters had hoped he would be reinstated to the Royal Marines.
However, his dismissal from the service remains, although it is no longer dishonourable.
Claire Blackman asked the media for "some time together to readjust"
In 2011 one of two insurgents was seriously injured by gunfire from an Apache helicopter sent to provide air support, and the marines from 42 Commando found him in a field.
Blackman, from Taunton, Somerset, was known as Marine A during the original trial process and fully identified after he was found guilty.
He was not at the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the sentencing but appeared via a video link from prison.
Blackman's wife, Claire, led a campaign alongside author Frederick Forsyth and the Daily Mail newspaper for his conviction to be re-examined.
Standing outside court with her lawyers and cheering supporters, Mrs Blackman said she was "overjoyed at the judges' decision to significantly reduce Al's sentence, such that he can be released imminently".
"This is the moment we have all been fighting hard for".
The trial was the first time a member of the British armed forces faced a murder charge in relation to the Afghanistan conflict. Two other marines from 42 Commando were tried at the same time but acquitted.
Sgt Blackman's actions were caught on another marine's helmet camera
Judges at the Court Martial Appeal Court in London had been told he had a recognised mental illness at the time of the killing.
His defence team argued the conviction was "unsafe" and fresh psychiatric evidence, if available at the time, would have provided him with a "partial defence".
But in their sentencing remarks, the judges said that although Blackman's responsibility was diminished, he "still retained a substantial responsibility for the deliberate killing".
They added: "The appellant's actions can be used by the insurgency and others as evidence that the killing of the insurgent was in breach of the values proclaimed for which the International Security Force and HM Armed Forces had been sent to Afghanistan."
They said other "aggravating factors" included the vulnerability of the insurgent, who could not defend himself, and "the decision to ensure that the killing was not witnessed by the overhead helicopter and thereafter to cover up the evidence of what had happened".
Patrick Hennessey, a barrister and former Army captain, said it was important to remember that a crime had been committed - "that's clear in black and white - no-one is disputing it".
He also said it was wrong to suggest there had been any miscarriage of justice as the original Court Martial Appeal Court had not seen evidence Blackman was suffering from a mental illness at the time of the incident.
But he added: "The MoD [Ministry of Defence] must be really careful to examine how it can make sure that soldiers aren't put in the same stress situations that Alexander Blackman was put in."
The killing on 15 September 2011 took place during the final month of 42 Commando's six-month tour of duty to Helmand province - a deployment which saw the unit lose seven men.
Footage from an unofficial helmet-mounted camera of another marine was found during an unrelated investigation and showed Blackman shooting the Afghan prisoner in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol.
The court martial heard that Blackman used abusive language and said: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil."
He then turned to his comrades and said: "obviously this doesn't go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention".

Blackman told his original trial he believed the victim was already dead and he was taking out his anger on a corpse.
Reducing the conviction earlier this month, the judges said:
Blackman had been "an exemplary soldier before his deployment"
He had suffered from "quite exceptional stressors" which increasingly affected him the longer he was in command
It was "clear that a consequence was that he had developed a hatred for the Taliban and a desire for revenge"
At the time of the killing "the patrol remained under threat from other insurgents"
The stressors and his adjustment disorder had been factors in "substantially" impairing his ability to form a rational judgment
Blackman had more than 13 years of service and had previously been deployed to Iraq on three occasions and to Afghanistan in 2007.

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-39417239
#14791349
Sure, but since he happened to be the Marine's terrorist, I don't really see an issue here.

Edit: forgot the "don't"
Last edited by Frollein on 29 Mar 2017 12:23, edited 1 time in total.
#14791359
Frollein wrote:Sure, but since he happened to be the Marine's terrorist, I really see an issue here.


Using this line of argument it would be OK for ISIS/Al-Qaeda to line up captured combatants and execute them.
Supposedly the treatment of the captured is one the things that differentiates the marines from the "terrorists."
#14791363
anarchist23 wrote:Using this line of argument it would be OK for ISIS/Al-Qaeda to line up captured combatants and execute them.
Supposedly the treatment of the captured is one the things that differentiates the marines from the "terrorists."

They do this routinely, which is why Syria emptied out. They sometimes let Americans live, because they can use them for propaganda and ransom. Nobody cares about the lives of Al Qaeda or ISIS fighters, not even themselves. It's a shame to allow your troops to get shot at and then charge them with murder for shooting back. It would be one thing if he were in prison, but still on the battlefield after having come under attack is clearly going to color someone's judgement.
#14791365
anarchist23 wrote:Using this line of argument it would be OK for ISIS/Al-Qaeda to line up captured combatants and execute them.
Supposedly the treatment of the captured is one the things that differentiates the marines from the "terrorists."

It does differentiate the marines from the terrorists, he was legally prosecuted for it, any time a ISIS or Al-Qaeda type executes a prisoner (even civilian prisoners) they expect to go to heaven for it not prison.

Given that I don't blame that soldier one bit for popping him off. They should have let him off with a warning.

"There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil."


.. and bonus points doing it with poetic style.
#14791366
anarchist23 wrote:Using this line of argument it would be OK for ISIS/Al-Qaeda to line up captured combatants and execute them.
Supposedly the treatment of the captured is one the things that differentiates the marines from the "terrorists."


Except that terrorists don't fall under the Geneva convention to my knowledge - they don't have the same rights as regular POWs.
#14791372
Once the West fights terrorism outside our rules of law we undermine the values that separate us from the "terrorist," the values that we are trying to protect.
Don't you think this case acts like a recruiting sergeant for the "terrorist" organisations?
#14791378
That's like being an English gentleman in a street fight - if only one party adheres to "the rules," that party is fucked. Once you throw out the rules for your noble terrorist cause, don't expect others to abide by them when it would suit you.

And lol at trying that moralistic argument with me.
#14791381
The Taliban and Al Qaeda ignore Geneva conventions at home and abroad. By failing to wear uniforms they make it impossible for our soldiers and drones to target their soldiers and avoid civilians. By using hospitals as command centers and ambulances to transport weapons they violate the Geneva conventions and leave A23's criticisms void.
#14791382
Frollein wrote:Except that terrorists don't fall under the Geneva convention to my knowledge - they don't have the same rights as regular POWs.


I don't think that is the case.
This isn't a moralist argument it is the law.

Protocols I and II additional to the Geneva Conventions

Adopted on 8 June 1977, Protocols I and II are international treaties that supplement the Geneva Conventions of 1949. They significantly improve the legal protection covering civilians and the wounded, and - for the first time - lay down detailed humanitarian rules that apply in civil wars.

Why were the Additional Protocols I and II to the Geneva Conventions adopted?
They were adopted by States to make international humanitarian law more complete and more universal, and to adapt it better to modern conflicts. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 afforded major improvements in the legal protection of victims of conflict. However, they apply essentially to international conflicts – wars between states. Only Article 3, common to all four Conventions, refers to internal conflicts; its adoption was itself a great step forward but the rules contained in the Article are mainly of a general nature.
In addition, most of the countries that became independent after 1945 “inherited” the Geneva Conventions from the former colonial powers – the adoption of the Protocols was also an occasion for them to contribute to developing the law.


Why two Protocols?
Protocol I deals with international armed conflicts, Protocol II with non-international ones, a term that includes civil wars. It was necessary to differentiate between the two situations, as States were not prepared to grant the same degree of legal protection in both cases.


In 2005 a third protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions was adopted, establishing a new emblem, the red crystal, which is equal in status to the red cross and red crescent.

What are the additional Protocols?

Additional Protocol II was the first-ever international treaty devoted exclusively to protecting people affected by non-international armed conflicts, or civil wars.

The Additional Protocols also:

How do they protect people?
The Additional Protocols include rules especially designed to protect both civilians and combatants.
They stipulate that:

combatants must not pose as civilians
indiscriminate attacks are not allowed
acts of violence - or threats to commit them - whose primary purpose is to spread terror are prohibited
objects indispensable to the survival of communities must not be destroyed

Who is protected by them?
Those who are not, or no longer, taking part in an armed conflict must be protected, respected and treated humanely. The Additional Protocols say that:

All wounded and sick people, both civilian and military, must be collected and cared for, without discrimination.
Women and children must be respected and protected from any form of indecent assault.
Children and adolescents must be protected from the effects of war. They must not be allowed to take part in hostilities.
Members of families separated by conflict should be reunited and they should be able to exchange personal messages. They also have the right to be informed of what has happened to missing relatives.


Are combatants protected too?
Combatants also are entitled to protection.

The Additional Protocols say that:

Suffering inflicted on an opponent must not go beyond what is necessary to achieve a legitimate military objective.
Combatants no longer capable of fighting may not be attacked.
In an international conflict, captured combatants must be presumed to be prisoners of war, and are therefore entitled to protection under the Geneva Conventions.
Prisoners of war who cannot be cared for must be set free.


https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/docu ... s-1977.htm
#14791384
anarchist23 wrote:Once the West fights terrorism outside our rules of law we undermine the values that separate us from the "terrorist," the values that we are trying to protect.

What exactly are "our values"? Politicians constantly talk about "our shared values," but I have no idea what they are talking about anymore. Is it a deep love of LBGTQ rights that is somehow enshrined in our constitution, written by people that would have hung LBGTQ people by their necks and whose activity was illegal in most states up until 1960 or thereabouts? I think we should stop issuing our soldiers body armor and just give each of them a military lawyer to shield themselves until we run out of military lawyers. Then, we can issue body armor again.
#14791388
A law that can not be enforced without consent from a third-party (the soldiers own country) is not a law in effect. It lets powerful countries shield their own citizens from investigations of war-crimes and punishes countries with less influence.

One british soldier executes a wounded enemy combatant on the battlefield? Hardly the worst war-crime ever commited. I despice the feeling that this is window dressing, showing justice in a minor case to hide many others that even more deserved to be brought into the light.
#14791398
I'm glad he had his conviction reduced to manslaughter, but he really should never have been put on trial in the first place. He did what pretty much any soldier in his position would have done, and I expect there are probably hundreds of similar cases from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that haven't been publicised.

Honestly, the people condemning Sgt Blackman are ridiculous. It's a war. War is unpleasant. Deal with it. If you want to stop things like this from happening, stop looking for any opportunity you can to start more wars. I won't hold my breath.

(I'll also add that this Taliban fighter appears to have died a far more merciful death than the children incinerated on a weekly basis by British and American drone strikes. Of course, Sgt Blackman wasn't as senior as the people in charge of those, so he can safely be thrown under the bus.)

anarchist23 wrote:Once the West fights terrorism outside our rules of law we undermine the values that separate us from the "terrorist," the values that we are trying to protect.

This is just self-righteous, meaningless drivel of the sort I'd expect from Tony Blair or David Cameron. Soldiers are trained to fight and to kill the enemy. They are not sage-like moral teachers sent to set an example to the savages. This is particularly true of Royal Marines in a war zone. They couldn't be further removed from any situation in which acting in accordance with "our values" is viable.
#14791401
The killing of a wounded fighter is against the Geneva Convention.

These lines of argument on the treatment of "terrorists" were used in the eighties and nineties against the IRA fighters.
What we have at the moment is asymmetric warfare with all its consequences.

MadMonk wrote:A law that can not be enforced without consent from a third-party (the soldiers own country) is not a law in effect.

I don't know about that.

It lets powerful countries shield their own citizens from investigations of war-crimes and punishes countries with less influence.

You've got the idea.

One british soldier executes a wounded enemy combatant on the battlefield? Hardly the worst war-crime ever commited.

I tend to agree.
The UK army of today is internationally regarded as the most professional in the world. Shooting an injured fighter is not professional.
Although not the worst war-crime it matters to the fighters family.

I despice the feeling that this is window dressing, showing justice in a minor case to hide many others that even more deserved to be brought into the light.

Yes. Two wrongs don't make a right.

blackjack21 wrote:What exactly are "our values"? Politicians constantly talk about "our shared values," but I have no idea what they are talking about anymore.

Hopefully our values have improved since we used to hang draw and quarter people.

Is it a deep love of LBGTQ rights that is somehow enshrined in our constitution, written by people that would have hung LBGTQ people by their necks and whose activity was illegal in most states up until 1960 or thereabouts?

Again this is progress

I think we should stop issuing our soldiers body armor and just give each of them a military lawyer to shield themselves until we run out of military lawyers. Then, we can issue body armor again.

Since My Lai massacre where the soldiers did not know the law the education of the troops of laws of war is part of their initial training.
Military lawyers in fact are used more and more. It's called military lawyer creep.

Heisenberg wrote:also add that this Taliban fighter appears to have died a far more merciful death than the children incinerated on a weekly basis by British and American drone strikes.

Most definitely.
#14791408
From your own quote:

The Additional Protocols include rules especially designed to protect both civilians and combatants.
They stipulate that:

combatants must not pose as civilians


Terrorists aren't combatants. They are not protected under Geneva and they damn well shouldn't be.

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