Three marines charged with murder of captured Afghan appear in court

Full trial into killing of unknown victim to begin in October and is expected to last up to three weeks

(Three Royal Marines have been in court accused of the murder of an unknown Afghan while on active service.

The men, known only as Marines A, B and C, were at the military court centre in Bulford, Wiltshire for a pre-trial hearing.

Amid tight security they listened to the proceedings from behind a screen, which protected their identities from the public gallery.

The hearing, which took just 30 minutes, heard that the trial will commence on 21 October and is due to last up to three weeks.

The servicemen, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, had pleaded not guilty at an earlier hearing to the allegation under section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 that on or about 15 September 2011 they murdered the captured person while on patrol in Afghanistan.

Two further marines, known as D and E, have been told that the murder charges against them have been dropped.

But an anonymity order, granted last year to protect the identities of the five by Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, remains “in full force in respect of all five” marines until further notice.

Making the ruling last November, the judge said the defendants would be at “real and immediate risk” from “organised terrorist activity and lone wolves”, if their names were made public.

The marines were arrested by the Royal Military police in October last year, after suspicious video footage was found on a serviceman’s laptop by civilian police in the UK.

Blackett released the defendants on bail until their trial.

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