Marine convicted of Afghan murder appeals to preserve anonymity

Lawyers argue man so far identified only as Marine A could face possible revenge attacks if he is named

Lawyers for a Royal Marine convicted of murdering an injured Afghan prisoner will tell appeal court judges that he and his family could face possible revenge attacks if he is named.

The lord chief justice, Lord Thomas, and two other judges will be asked on Wednesday to allow the man, so far identified only as Marine A, to remain anonymous despite being convicted of such a serious offence.

Marine A was convicted by a court martial board this month of the cold-blooded murder of the suspected insurgent during a patrol in Helmand.

Throughout the trial Marine A, together with two other servicemen, Marines B and C, who were cleared of the offence, were given anonymity after the court ruled they would be targeted by terrorist groups and “lone wolves” if they were named.

But just before the end of the case the judge advocate general, Jeff Blackett, ruled that Marine A and other marines who were on the patrol should be identified because he no longer accepted the argument that there was “real and immediate risk” to their lives. However, he gave them the option of taking their case to the court martial appeal court.

The three marines – plus two others who were originally charged with murder but had the case against them discontinued – claim they should retain their anonymity.

Marine A’s legal team is expected to argue that nothing has changed since last year when Blackett concluded there was a real and immediate threat to the men. In fact, they say, the danger may have been increased by his conviction, the publicity surrounding the trial and the release of audio capturing the moments leading up to the murder.

Lawyers for some media organisations, including the Guardian, have argued that in the interests of open justice the marines should be named. The media groups will be represented at the hearing in London.

Marine A, an experienced sergeant, remains in custody and is due to be sentenced next month. He faces life in a civilian prison. He claimed he thought the prisoner was already dead when he discharged his pistol into the man’s chest, but the court martial concluded he must have known the man was still alive.

There has been debate about the level of the minimum term he should face. Some former military commanders have called for leniency because of the horrors that he faced during a long and distinguished career. Others have said he must be made an example of. He is the first member of the British armed services in recent history to have been convicted of murder while on active service overseas.

Marine A opened fire during a patrol in 2011. The incident was captured on a head camera worn by Marine B. The footage – showing the marines dragging a wounded insurgent across a field and abusing him before the fatal shot – came to light by chance when detectives were …read more    

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