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Marine A: Cold-blooded Murder Is Never Heroic

09/12/2013 14:58 GMT | Updated 05/02/2014 10:59 GMT

The murder of an unarmed Afghan insurgent did not take place in the heat of battle or even the heat of the moment. It was a cold-blooded and calculated murder.

Sergeant Blackman (Marine A) and others were under no threat of attack. After being injured by an Apache helicopter, the marines stripped the insurgent of any weapons he possessed. Several minutes later, Marine A had him moved from the prying eyes of operational Headquarters so "PGSS can't see what we are doing to him."

At this point it was clear the group faced no imminent threat (from either the injured Afghan or any other individual). As an injured enemy combatant, he deserved a measure of humanity and respect. He received neither.

They then moved him with such force that he likely sustained more injuries. Soon after, Blackman ordered Marine B to stop administering first aid.

Once assured that the Apache was also out of sight, he stood over his victim and fired his 9mm pistol into his chest as he quoted Shakespeare: "There you are. Shuffle off this mortal coil, you cunt. It's nothing you wouldn't do to us," as he watched the unarmed man die in front of him.

Blackman then instigated a cover-up of his actions and coldly acknowledged his breach of the Geneva Convention. In the sentencing remarks, the judge described this action as "chilling."

He blamed a "foolish bravado" for quoting Shakespeare and pointed to a momentary lack of judgment for his actions, stating:

"I thought about it over the last year as we get towards these proceedings but I cannot give any other reason than to say that it was poor judgment and lack of self-control. I thought he was dead."

However, this was dismissed as lacking any credibility, as it was clearly made-up to provide a defence after being charged with murder.

During the hearing, pathologist Dr Nicholas Hunt stated that the insurgent had been alive when he was shot.

Previously, Sergeant Blackman had an unblemished record but the stresses of successive tours and the death of his father only added to his daily pressures. Psychiatric evidence provided to the hearing indicated that Blackman developed a form of combat stress disorder.

Whilst there were stories of Taliban insurgents hanging limbs of dead British soldiers from trees, Mr Blackman had not personally witnessed any such event.

Ultimately, the pressures of war were not strong enough evidence to save Marine A from his criminal conviction.

Some may point to the political nature of his hearing: that a life sentence serves as an extreme deterrent and a reassurance to the international community about British legal justice.

This sad episode has created a new wave of jingoism. The flip-side of which is racism. Daily Mail commentpieces have tried to rationalise murder and even the far-right attempted to co-opt a misplaced sense of anger.

Sergeant Blackman's conviction was an accident of justice since his crime was only uncovered when civilian police discovered the infamous video on a serviceman's laptop. However, he will now serve life with a minimum parole tariff of 10 years.