Royal Marine ‘ashamed’ of shooting Afghan national, court martial hears

Marine A tells court martial he thought man he shot was already dead, while accepting video footage suggests otherwise

An experienced Royal Marine accused of murdering a suspected Afghan insurgent said he was “ashamed” that he had shot the man in the chest – but believed he was already dead.

The sergeant, who can only be identified as Marine A, blamed lack of self-control and said it was a “spur of the moment” decision to shoot the man.

Marine A accepted that video footage of the incident suggests that the man was “probably” still alive when he opened fire, but he insisted: “It was my belief that at the time I discharged my pistol he was dead.”

The marine told a court martial at Bulford in Wiltshire on Wednesday that he briefly discussed the incident back at base but did not talk about it again until he was arrested a year later. “I was ashamed of my actions and wanted to forget about it,” he said.

Three marines – identified as A, B and C – are accused of the “execution” of the prisoner during a patrol in Helmand in September 2011. Marine A shot the man, and B and C allegedly encouraged and assisted him. All three deny murder.

Asked by his barrister, Anthony Berry, why he had shot the prisoner, Marine A replied: “Stupid, lack of control, a momentary lapse of judgment. It was poor judgment on my part.”

Berry asked A if he believed the man was dead. “Yes,” he replied.

In the footage, captured on a head camera worn by Marine B, the man is seen twitching after he is shot. Marine A told the court: “I was surprised the amount he moved. He became animated after I had discharged my firearm. I questioned if I was right. Had I made a mistake?”

The video catches A telling the insurgent: “Shuffle off this mortal coil you cunt.” He told the court martial the remark was “foolish bravado … something I’m not proud of”.

He is heard telling his colleagues: “I’ve just broken the Geneva convention.” He said he had believed he had broken the conventions because he had mistreated a body.

Marine A gave evidence from behind a screen. Speaking in a clear, loud voice, he said he had completed tours of Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He told the court that the second half of his six-month tour to Afghanistan in 2011 had been busy because it was the time of year when young men branded the “10-dollar Taliban” finished the poppy harvest and took up arms against the allied forces for $10 a day.

He said the pace was “frantic” and the marines only had one day off every two or three weeks because of a “scarcity of numbers”.

He spoke about one incident in which a respected officer and a second colleague were killed and others badly wounded in an IED attack. Following that attack, he said, body parts of some of the dead and wounded were hung in trees as a “kind of trophy for the …read more    

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