Marines executed prisoner, court told
Three Royal Marines deliberately moved the body of a seriously injured Afghan insurgent out of the line of sight of surveillance cameras in order to execute him, a court martial was told.
The trio, referred to as
Marines A, B and C, are all charged with murdering the unnamed man who had attacked their base.
The court martial was told that film evidence was collected by a camera on one of the Marine’s helmet.
NEW IN : for those cold winter nights highland check dog and cat beds in stock, fleecy and washable ideal for those nights snuggling by the fire...... available in 3 colourways
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Saturday, January 25 2014
A photograph of the dead man was recovered from one of the Marine’s quarters which showed another holding a gun over the corpse.
A journal from the same marine who was photographed was also recovered which suggested he wanted to shoot the man himself.
The court was told that the serviceman, known only as Marine A, shot the man in the chest with a pistol at close range.
All three deny murder on or about September 15 2011 contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006.
The three Marines were hidden from view of the public gallery of the courtroom by the use of a screen – although the judge, Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, and the seven-strong court martial board could see them.
Prosecutor David Perry QC told the board at the Military Court Centre in Bulford, Wiltshire, that Marine B filmed the incident on a camera mounted on his helmet.
Mr Perry said: “The murder took place in Afghanistan, the murder took place on September 15 2011, and the murder took place when the three defendants were on active service. The prosecution case is that Marine A used a pistol and deliberately shot and killed the unknown man.
“The man had been captured or detained following an earlier incident in which he had been wounded by gunfire.
“He had been wounded by gunfire that had been fired from an Apache attack helicopter.
“Although Marine A used his pistol – firing the gun at close range into the injured man’s chest – the case is that Marines B and C were all party to the killing.
“The prosecution case in respect of Marines B and C is that they encouraged and assisted Marine A in carrying out the killing.”
Mr Perry told the court that the Afghan national had been ‘‘executed’’ during an incident in Operation Herrick 14 in Helmand Province.
“It was not a killing in the heat and exercise of any armed conflict. The prosecution case is that it amounted to an execution, a field execution,” Mr Perry said.
“An execution of a man who was entitled to be treated with dignity and respect and entitled to be treated as any British serviceman or servicewoman would be entitled to be treated in a similar situation.”
Mr Perry said the Afghan had been seriously injured by gunfire fired from the helicopter, which he described as a legitimate operation.
The court heard that an air balloon, known as a PGSS, was in use for observation over the incident area at the time.
Mr Perry alleged that the Marines came across the injured man in a field, with Marine A saying: “Move him to a place where we cannot be seen by the PGSS.”
Referring to the reason why Marine A wanted to move the injured man, Mr Perry alleged: ‘‘He knew full well what he was going to do.”
The prosecutor went on: “You may think that knowing that the injured man had suffered severe injuries the defendants exploited the seriousness of his injuries and used them as a cloak to conceal their own actions.
“They reported that he died of the wounds suffered from the cannon fire from the Apache helicopter.”
The board heard that the helicopter had been called in to assist after two people – believed to be insurgents – had been seen in the area.
Mr Perry said that the man’s body was left where he was shot – and a memorial had been erected by local people in his memory.
“A shrine was erected in commemoration of the deceased, presumably erected by local people to commemorate his death,” he said.
“The significance is that his body was left where he was shot and it was later removed by local people.
“So we don’t have a body in this case and there is no post- mortem.”
Mr Perry said that photographs of the dead Afghan national were recovered from a camera in Marine A’s barrack room after he had been arrested on September 22 last year.
“So Marine A had in his possession pictures of the deceased taken after he had been shot,” Mr Perry said.
He said that other photographs showed Marine C holding a pistol above the body of the dead man as he prodded him with his foot.
Mr Perry added: “One of the significant points of the prosecution case is that Marine A had received an assurance from Marine B that the Apache helicopter had gone. They are waiting for the Apache helicopter to leave before the shooting takes place.
“There is some concern from Marine A that they can be observed.”
Mr Perry said that a journal, which had been written by Marine C, gave an insight into what happened during the alleged murder.
“Marine C gives an account that he was encouraging Marine A to shoot the injured man,” Mr Perry said.
“Marine C wanted to shoot him himself and one of the things he said to Marine A is ‘Shall I shoot him in the head?’
“And Marine A said ‘No that would be too obvious’ and that was before Marine A was to shoot him in the chest.
“So the prosecution say, the journal compiled by Marine C, which he of course didn’t know would come into the hands of the prosecuting authority, can be a clear admission of encouraging an act of murder.”
The court heard that a command post close to Forward Operating Base Shahzad had come under fire from what was believed to be two insurgents on the afternoon of September 15, 2011, and the Apache helicopter had been sent from Camp Bastion to assist.
An insurgent was spotted in an open field and the Apache fired 139 30mm rounds at the insurgent, Mr Perry said.
The pilot and co-pilot did not believe anyone could have survived the gunfire and so Marine A and his colleagues were told to go to check out the field.
They discovered the Afghan seriously injured and in possession of an old AK47 rifle, two magazines of ammunition and a hand grenade.
Marine A reported back to Operating Base Shahzad that the man was still alive.
Mr Perry said Marine A told the others to move the man to an area where they were less likely to be seen.
Mr Perry alleged that Marine A shot the Afghan in the chest at close range with a 9mm pistol and, after doing so, said to him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
The prosecutor said Marine A then said to the other marines: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
Mr Perry added: “So that’s the killing of a wounded man by Marine A and the prosecution say a clear acknowledgement of murder – that was to be concealed and it was ‘not to go anywhere fellas because I just broke the Geneva Convention’.”
The case continues.
Panel shown five headcam recordings
Five recordings taken from the headcam of Marine B – believed to have accidentally filmed the incident – were shown to the panel.
The Royal Marine patrol was first shown stood waiting outside a field of tall green crops, with an Apache helicopter audible overhead.
Servicemen were heard swearing and complaining about their task of searching the field for the insurgents after the helicopter’s attack.
One asked “Why didn’t they use a f***ing rocket?”, while another replied “F*** me, it’s just error after error after error” and “This is an absolute f***ing travesty”.
Marines A and C were filmed scouting out the field before finding the Afghan, standing over him and calling the others over.
The Afghan was then pictured lying on the ground, covered in blood, wearing a white long top and no shoes, with his eyes wide open and rolled back.
As members of the patrol approached the man, they were heard saying to him “f***ing prick”, “f***ing ****” and “bastard”.
The man, who was floppy and clearly seriously injured, was then dragged by the Marines into a wooded area nearby.
Marine A asked “Anybody want to give first aid to this idiot?”, with another quickly replying “Nope”.
Marine C was heard asking Marine A if he should shoot the man in the head, which was refused as “that would be f***ing obvious”.
The injured man, whose shirt had been pulled up his bloodied back, suffered kicks from the servicemen before being flipped over from his back to his front.
“F***s sake, I can’t believe we are doing this” one Marine was heard saying.
Marine A was filmed walking forward, bending down and shooting the man in the centre of his chest with a pistol.
The Afghan was seen dying as Marine A looked on, telling him “There you are.
“Shuffle off this mortal coil.
“It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
Each of the five clips ended with Marine B attempting to turn his headcam off.
It is believed the film was accidentally taken when the camera switched itself on, after being triggered by movement and sound.