One of Britain’s highest ranking Royal Marines has branded the cold-blooded execution of an injured Afghan insurgent as “truly shocking and appalling”.
Brigadier Bill Dunham, Deputy Commandant General Royal Marines, spoke out after a commando was convicted of murdering the seriously wounded prisoner in Helmand Province two years ago.
A court martial board found the serviceman, known only as Marine A, guilty of murder following a two-week trial at the military court centre in Bulford, Wiltshire.
Two others, known only as Marines B and C, were acquitted of the same charge, contrary to Section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006, by the seven-strong board.
Brigadier Dunham said: “It is a matter of profound regret in this isolated incident that one Marine failed to apply his training and discharge his responsibilities.
“What we have heard over the last two weeks is not consistent with the ethos, values and standards of the Royal Marines. It was a truly shocking and appalling aberration. It should not have happened and it should never happen again.”
During the trial, the court martial heard the Marines were on patrol in a “kinetic” area of Afghanistan on September 15 2011 when they discovered the insurgent lying seriously injured in a field.
Marine A directed his comrades to move the man, an Afghan national, into a wooded area before shooting him at close range in the centre of his chest.
As the man convulsed on the ground, Marine A told him: “There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you ****. It’s nothing you wouldn’t do to us.”
He then turned to comrades and said: “Obviously this doesn’t go anywhere, fellas. I just broke the Geneva Convention.”
Superiors were informed the man had died from wounds sustained in the Apache helicopter attack, in which 139 30mm anti-tank rounds were fired at the man.
But a year later, footage of the murder – taken from a camera mounted on the helmet of Marine B – was discovered on a laptop by police investigating unrelated areas.
The harrowing video was played numerous times to the court martial board, with audio recordings also released to the public.
Brigadier Dunham, who has served for 34 years, added: “The Royal Marines deservedly have a worldwide reputation as one of the elite fighting forces. Our commandos go through one of the toughest training programmes to deploy to some of the harshest environments in the world.”