Sergeant denies killing insurgent, with encouragement from colleagues, saying man had already died when he shot him
An experienced Royal Marine sergeant accused of murdering a wounded detainee in Afghanistan has told investigators he and his troops were under immense pressure and had suffered devastating losses at the time of the incident.
The man, who can only be identified as Marine A, said he had lost two close colleagues and others had been badly injured. He said the encounter with the man was one of the few occasions they had come “face to face” at close quarters with an insurgent.
Marine A also pointed out that the man was found with grenades on him two days after their base had been subjected to a sustained grenade attack. “Tensions were high,” he said.
However the marine insisted that neither he nor other troops had killed the man, rather he had died of injuries sustained in an earlier helicopter air strike. “There was a little bit of banter about topping him but that didn’t happen. All joking aside, no one killed him. I don’t want that on my conscience. He died of his injuries.”
Marine A and two colleagues, B and C, are accused of carrying out the cold-blooded “execution” of the man. A court martial in Wiltshire has been told that A shot the man in the chest with a pistol and was helped and encouraged by B and C. All three deny murder, which allegedly took place in September 2011.
The investigation began a year later after a videoclip was found showing part of the incident recorded on a head-camera worn by Marine B. It showed marines roughly dragging the man across a field. A can be heard asking: “Anybody want to do first aid on this idiot”. Another marine, allegedly C, says: “I’ll put one in his head, if you want.” Marine A allegedly replies: “Not in his head, cause that’ll be fucking obvious.” The clip did not show the moment when the man was actually shot.
A was arrested in September 2012 and questioned by the navy’s special investigations branch on suspicion of committing a war crime contrary to the Geneva conventions.
Marine A said he accepted that if the video was seen in public it would damage the reputation of British troops and probably put service personnel in more danger. He conceded the man had not been treated in a “particularly friendly manner”. But he said he would not let anyone “start popping people in the head” and insisted he had given the man first aid shortly after the camera stopped recording.
Soon afterwards, the section of film showing the shooting was found. A is allegedly seen shooting the man in the chest before telling him: “There you are, shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.” He tells his colleagues: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas … I’ve just broken the Geneva convention.”
A changed his story, the court has heard, accepting in a second interview that he …read more